Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Monday, February 26, 2007

Fairy tale

So I'm working in this journal called "Idea Catcher" which gives you prompts to write about in order to spark your creativity. This is something I wrote yesterday (and had a lot of fun with) in response to the prompt, "Revise a fairy tale, using the villain’s point of view. For example, the witch might have had good reasons for cooking Hansel and Gretel or the big bad world for wanting to eat the three little pigs."

Once upon a time there was a man who had a lovely blond child named Cinderella. Unfortunately, her mother passed away, and the man eventually remarried a woman with two daughters around Cinderella’s age. When the father died of an untimely death, Cinderella was left to live with her stepmother and stepsisters, none of whom she was particularly fond of. She took to referring to them as her ‘wicked’ stepmother and sisters and scorned them mercilessly.

Cinderella’s stepmother Mildred was a woman of humble origins and meager looks, but one with a large heart, for which Cinderella’s father had fallen in love with her. Her daughters were likewise plain and a bit pudgy from their love of good food and companionship – kind of like Hobbits, only taller – but they were kind, loving girls. They did their best to be good to Cinderella, a primadonna who felt superior because of her size 0 figure and her flowing blond locks, but no matter how hard they tried, she treated them like dirt. “Why don’t you spend some time with your sisters, Cinderella?” Mildred would ask. The sisters would raise their heads to see what Cinderella’s response would be, but would feel no shock when she narrowed her eyes and said, “Those fatties are not my sisters. No thanks.”

When the royal family announced a ball that was to be held for the express purpose of finding a bride for the young, handsome prince, the sisters became excited. "Maybe one of us will marry a prince!” they exclaimed. Cinderella snorted. “It’s not likely he’ll pick one of you two when there are ladies in the kingdom who are actually good-looking… namely, me.” The sisters ran to their room and cried until Mildred could stand it no longer. “Cinderella, I have had quite enough of your narcissism and cruelty! The only way you’re going to the ball is if you clean the entire house from top to bottom, make yourself a dress and find your own method of transportation, because I’ll be damned if I allow you to walk all over us any longer!”

Cinderella was far too lazy and self-centered to do what her stepmother commanded, so she stayed home that night and dreamt up a fantasy about outwitting her wicked stepmother and sisters and having a fairy tale wedding to the prince, who would naturally be repulsed by them as well. She told this story to her close friend, Jacob Grimm, who immortalized it and her by writing it down with one of his brothers.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sunday words

From my little, tattered NIV with the inscription page:

PRESENTED TO: Sojourness

BY: Your Daddy

ON: 11/22/90

"For I know the plans I have for you,"
declares the Lord,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you a hope and a future."

Baby, you can drive my car

What a weekend. Let's just say I'm very glad I got those paying gigs because now all that money has been sucked away through a friggin hole in my pocket on four wheels.

My car arrived Friday night at 9:30. I was told it would arrive on Thursday afternoon so I was unable to work at the office on Thursday or Friday, and it came Friday night. Naturally! They had not done one thing they had promised to do throughout the process, why should I have believed it would be so this time? Whatever, I worked from home, it wasn't the end of the world.

In car-owning bliss, Boyfriend and I went out to get the oil changed yesterday. They told me I should probably replace my fuel filter because the outside of it is rusty (Are we going for a beauty pageant here? It's underneath the car.) and a fuel injection just for fun and that fun will cost me $120. Can I drive it as it is? I asked. Well, yes, but we really would like your money, they said. Fuck off, I replied, and we left. We spent some time in the bookstore then got on the expressway in order to meet the real estate woman. (We are hunting for a cheaper apartment.)

On the highway I noticed a curious thing, the brakes were not working as well as a person with the will to live would like. It scared the living shit out of me when I didn't get much resistance, pushed the brake all the way down, and slowed down only gradually. I thought perhaps I imagined it but when we got off the highway and I had a hard time stopping at a red light, I began to panic. Boyfriend and I took it to the nearest mechanic and spent five hours waiting for them to replace my rear brake drums, which were apparently in bad shape. It was going to cost $420 but I got my friend who knows cars on the phone and he spoke with the mechanic and got him down to $350.

In essence, between the oil change, checkup stuff and repairs, I have had the car for one day so far and it has cost me $400.

I hate being a grownup!!

Friday, February 23, 2007

PR = pretty rad

My American studies/60s culture class is bugging me now. I just read On the Road which kicked some serious ass and now he's got me reading some book about rock 'n roll. I love reading and I love music but I don't really want to read about music. Argh. I can't wait to get back to the novels!

So my boss has a PR woman that gets publications to publish his articles and all that. She comes in every two weeks. Funny story I'm not sure I've told on this blog - let me go check - no, I didn't. I was looking for jobs back in the fall when I arrived in Austin. I sent my resume out for tons of things, specifically internships and positions involving writing and communications because that's where my experience is. I got the job for the CEO but still got emails about my resume, and one of the women who contacted me needed an intern to do PR work. A couple of days later, the PR woman had a meeting with the boss and myself, and she was talking about how she was trying to find an intern. I realized that her first name, an uncommon one, was the same as the woman who had emailed me. I said to her, "I think you emailed me a few days ago about my resume," and she was like, "Sojourness??" and my boss thought it was the funniest thing.

So anyway, she contacted me yesterday to ask if I want to do some freelance work for her. She needs to write case studies about my company and I write and I know the company so she figured I might want to do it. I was so happy - here I am trying my best to find freelance work and it falls into my lap.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

C'mon, Mama needs a new pair of shoes...

If any of you read Andi's blog, Tripping Towards Lucidity - as well you should - then you probably know that she uncovered a way to pick up some more cash by blogging about the city in which you live. She passed this knowledge along to me and I am now doing the same. I don't know how much you make through it but it's worth a shot. Revenue comes through visits so read it, love it, make it your own! Even if you're not in Austin, live vicariously through me!


(Well, if you want to help out and click once in a while, I'd appreciate it. I will probably make it my home page or something.)

Do any of you remember that I was writing a novel last year? I kind of forgot about it but it has resurfaced in my mind of late. The interesting thing is, I lost the file so had to begin writing it over, and it came out a bit differently. Same protagonist but otherwise different. I guess that is to be expected. The weird thing is, I have the ending - only the ending - in my mind, very clear, how I'm going to do it, etc. Now I need to make my way there.

In more EXCITING news, High School Friend called me yesterday to let me know that she is now engaged. Ring and all. I was so happy I nearly cried which is probably silly of me, but, you know, I cry a lot. Everyone saw it coming after eight years anyway - high school puppy love - but to actually happen? She is my first close friend ... hell, friend at all ... to get engaged and I am seriously psyched. Psyched!

Boyfriend helped me to squeeze out that paying gig piece by the deadline last night. I'm glad that's over with. Now I just have to write my magazine article, three blog entries and various stories. Never a break, muchachos. But it's good stuff, I cannot complain.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Before summer rain

Since my first full-time office job over two years ago, I developed this habit of carrying around small notebooks. I write down encouraging or funny things people say, reminders and to-do lists for myself, and sometimes thoughts or diary entries. The notebook habit began when I was bored at work and would write down little poems (by real poets, not my own) on the pages. Ever since, it has been like a Zen thing for me - it calms me and gives me peace and a bit of beauty when things get too complicated. The other day I wrote down "Before Summer Rain," by Rainer Maria Rilke:
Suddenly, from all the green around you,
something -- you don't know what -- has disappeared;
you feel it creeping closer to the window,
in total silence. From the nearby wood

you hear the urgent whistling of a plover,
reminding you of someone's Saint Jerome:
so much solitude and passion come
from that one voice, whose fierce request the downpour

will grant. The walls, with their ancient portraits, glide
away from us, cautiously, as though
they weren't supposed to hear what we are saying.

And reflected on the faded tapestries now;
the chill, uncertain sight of those long
childhood hours when you were so afraid.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mamma mia, that's a spicy meatball!

I am having a good weekend. I got a gig writing a podcast script for a reputable website/company that pays ... are you ready? ... $150-$200. I have never made that much off of my writing before. I made $25 once and all of the other instances have been pro bono. I am more interested in the self-esteem boost that this is giving me than in the actual money itself. That will prob just go to bills anyway. But still! Yay! It's due Tuesday so I'm huffing and puffing. Nearly halfway done, though, so it's all good.

Last night I wanted to spoil Boyfriend. He makes breakfast, lunch and dinner for me nearly every day, so I wanted to revert to traditional gender roles just for a night. I made a big Italian sauce with meats and cheeses (Mother's recipe) and poured it over pasta, and I baked a Devil's Food cake. Everything came out well (*whew*) and it was really nice. Thing is, though, it was a lot for only two people. You know what that means... left overs baby!

The car drama worsened and I am too stressed and angry and wanting to punch a face in to write about it. Suffice it to say that the car has been finally picked up and I am praying for no more incidents or hidden fees. Madonna, people make me mad.

Today I interviewed a local professor-slash-musician for the magazine I write for. Let's hope he gets his pics in, unlike my last interview, so my piece can get published this time! *Crossing fingers*

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Okay, so we decided to stay. I don't even want to get into why, this visa/immigration stuff is so complicated even I don't understand it after talking about it for weeks. We feel it is less risky to stay here and so we are. I have to say that I am relieved. This makes me disappointed in myself - why wouldn't I be dying to go somewhere new? I just think the timing was bad and it wouldn't have been a fun visit anyway, what with us all afraid about his visa. We will go one day soon and it will be nice then.

Plus now I don't have to quit my job, and I am really starting to feel at home here. Everyone I work with is great and I am in that comfortable place that comes after working somewhere for a few months. There this little Sojourness-shaped space in the company, know what I mean?

The bastards who promised to pick up my car for shipping 3 weeks ago in order to steal our deposit finally want to pick it up this weekend. They also want to charge us $50 more than the quote, which is some damn nerve after making us wait almost a month. Boyfriend is going to fight with them because I am super passive. Sure, it's a gender stereotype, but it's true for us. I make him be the bad cop. I would tell them to go to hell and go with another company if it were not for the fact that I'm running sprints across the highway twice a day.

Boss put two red roses on the desk of every woman in the company yesterday (it's a small company). We had an office pizza party with heart-shaped pizza! Boyfriend and I spent the evening at home - he made dinner, we drank wine and I forced him to sit through the best movie EVER. It was lovely.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream

I'm so excited!!

Happy V Day

I was reading a blog post about Playboy in Indonesia and one of the comments was so great, I had to reproduce it here:
The real fight is not Christian vs. Muslim or East vs. West at all — it is between sanity and fundamentalism. The United States will never declare war on fundamentalism because Christian fundamentalists have a lot of clout in this country — but face it, if you took all the Christian Fundies, Zionist fundies, Islamic Fundies and Hindu Fundies and put them on an island somewhere to fight it out, the rest of us sane people, whether Christian, Jewish, Islamic or Hindu would live in relative peace.
By the way, we're not going. Yet. Stay tuned for more info.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Who's the boss?

I have the best boss in the world, no joke. I was nervous about talking to him about Indonesia. I knew he would be gracious about it but I just spent over a month at home and I felt like I was betraying the company or something. I envisioned this awkward exchange in which I profusely apologize. The exchange occurred yesterday but it was way better than I had hoped. He was very cool about it, saying that I could still do some work over there and that it will be a good experience for me. He gave me a ride home yesterday and told me about when he was fresh out of college and worked in Japan for three months. He said, "You know how three months can change your life more than 30 years can, if you use them right?" I nodded. He continued, "I suspect that's what it will be like for you if you go to Indonesia." I felt so happy that he wasn't even angry or disappointed.

On that note, let me say that for some reason my company pays like two weeks after you've worked the hours they're paying you for, so I am working full-time and living on part-time pay until next Friday. I have not had to resort to living off of my excess fat cells yet, but it will be nice to get my appropriately-sized check and feel like a grownup who can keep the electricity on.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

It's a meme!

The deal is you have to write 10 things that you like beginning with the letter bestowed upon you. Andi gave me the letter 'H.' So I give you, in no particular order:

- Hot chocolate - Boyfriend recently bought a "Smores" flavor that is seriously yummy. I scarf it at work every day when I am feeling cold. It's my coffee alternative.

- "Hannah and Her Sisters" - My favorite Woody Allen movie of all time! I love the religion/searching for the meaning of life aspect.

- Hugs - Enough said.

- "(A) Hard Day's Night" - Classic. It introduced me to the Beatles, who gave my life meaning at 17.

- Henry David Thoreau - I'll be honest, I can't read "Walden" straight through without getting bored at times, but the guy was a genius and I have a serious crush on his brain.

- Harry Potter - I'm not a crazy fan, have only read three so far so you know I'm not obsessed, but I really enjoy them. The movies, not so much, but definitely the books.

- History ... as much as I love literature.

- Healthy food ... if done right. Tofu and veggies and all that knocks me out. I never would have made it as a vegetarian for over a year if all I was eating was salads.

- Halvah bars - *Salivates*

- Hair ... as in facial hair on men. Always drove me crazy and still does ;)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Danny Tanner was not gay

Last night was the Bob Saget show. Crazy stuff, man! It was in a very nice theatre downtown, and before the show, Boyfriend and I were standing around having a drink. (They weren't letting anyone take their seats just yet.) Just then I hear someone say, "Look who's here!" and realize they're talking to me. I look up to see Friend From Work and his wife. It was a surprise; I never expect to bump into anyone in Austin because I only have like two friends.

Anyway, the opening comic was a local guy, but he was pretty funny. Not bad. Then there was an intermission and afterwards, Bob came out. I didn't know what to expect. I knew it would be dirty - the guy is desperate to rid himself of the t.v. dad persona and goes to great lengths to accomplish this - but not much about his standup style. Some of it was very funny. Other parts were not so much, but we were laughing because it was like, "Did he really just say that?" The only thing I didn't find funny at all were his jokes about sleeping with his daughters' underage friends. I can take a dirty joke, no biggie, but some things should just be off limits. I'm sure he's not a child molester - wouldn't go around flaunting it if he was - and it was just for shock value, but I don't think that's a funny topic at all. I'm sure that anyone in the audience who has been sexually abused as a child would agree.

Anyway, some of my favorite moments:

- He's speaking to someone in the audience and asks, "Did you grow up watching Full House?" The guy says yes and Bob snickers: "Fag." Then Bob asks him what his favorite episode is. After he answers, Bob says, "Ask me what my favorite episode is.... THE LAST ONE. I mean, come on, three straight guys raising three girls together in San Francisco? Would never happen."

- He tells a story about he and John Stamos being in a bar together and freaking out a 17-year old kid in the bathroom by talking about Becky and Nicky and Alex and DJ and all them as if they were real, calling each other Jesse and Danny at the urinals. The kid was pissing all over himself, thinking, "Full House is REAL!"

- He constantly refers to "that fucking bitch Kimmy Gibler."

- He tells the audience that Joey/Dave Coulier shaves his balls. He tells us to tell all our friends.

- He tells us about America's funniest home videos that they received but could never play on the show.

- He ends the show by singing a song he wrote with the help of "the best composers of our time, the Backstreet Boys." The song is called "Danny Tanner Is Not Gay" and it is to the tune of "I Want It That Way."

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Those of you who blog regularly and have for some time know that there are cycles. There are dry spells in which you don't want to write and feel unmotivated, and then there are moments of delicious inspiration in which you want to post every five minutes.

Contrary to what you may think, judging by how often I have been updating lately, I am in one of those appreciating-my-blog moods. I think about it and it brings a smile to my face. I love it. I think of things to write later. (The fact that it doesn't always happen aside.)

So although things are hectic and busy, I want to take time to write because it just makes me feel good.

Yesterday the Onion, the funniest newspaper ever that has recently come to Austin, awarded me a pair of tickets to see Bob Saget tomorrow night. I didn't think I would win them but sent the email in anyway... what the hell. Now I'm pretty excited. Not that I'm a big Bob Saget fan, but I have not been to a comedy show ever and I think it will be fun. Boyfriend and I saw him on Leno - and who can forget him on the Jamie Kennedy Experiment?? priceless - and are looking forward to our little night out on the town, thanks to the Onion. Woohoo!

Did I alert you all to the fact that I'm an ex-vegetarian and have been for a couple of months? I keep trying to remind myself to mention it. Oh, the fall from grace.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

We have a fairly new intern, and I find it funny how men who haven't given me a "hello" or even a smile in the five months I've been working here hold entire conversations with her. Could it be because she's thin, blonde, and uses words like "Sweet!"

I wonder.

Excuse Me Ms.

Yesterday I got the rejection letter from Ms. Magazine that I had waited months for. I queried them in the fall to propose writing about my mentor's life. She was very influential and well-known, so it is not as if I asked about some high school teacher or something. They rejected it anyway. Ah well. I wanted to do it more for her memory and achievements for women and girls than for myself getting published.

I did get a chance, though, to write something about her for a newsletter put out by the Careers office at my college at home.

"Mentor was many things to many people: a leader, a supervisor, a board member, a college president, a chairwoman, a wife, a mother, a mentor, a friend.

While I would bet my life on the fact that she was extremely successful in all she did, I can only personally comment on who and what she was to me.

I first saw Mentor when I showed up for the morning breakfast that was precursor to my interview for the Fellowship. It was April 1, 2004. I walked in, extremely early and extremely nervous, and pinned my nametag to my suit lapel. Mentor greeted me warmly, looked at my nametag and exclaimed, “Oh, I remember reading your essays! I really enjoyed them.” I looked at her, mouth agape, and then she turned to greet someone else. The rest of the morning I was kicking myself for having been so nervous. How could I forget to say “thank you?”

She made the opening remarks, introducing herself and the others associated with the Foundation. She told us that we were gifted, and should have been proud of ourselves for being chosen to interview for the Fellowship, regardless of whether or not we were chosen in the end. If we were not, there were other fellowships out there for us, she was sure of it.

She was also one of the interviewers on my panel. She pressed me with provocative questions about politics, literature, my essay topics, my goals, me. I was intimidated, not because she was harsh or overly serious, but because she had an overwhelming presence that let everyone in the room know she was a great woman. You didn’t even have to know of her accomplishments to sense that.

During the next two years of my life, I was blessed enough to talk to, listen to, confide in and learn from Mentor. When my father was involved in a nearly fatal accident, Mentor called me and left me a message of hope and encouragement. I spent quite a bit of time in hospital waiting rooms just listening to her message over and over. She also sent me flowers, to let me know that I was supported and loved.

Mentor took me to lunch one day last fall when I was preparing to interview for the internship in Venice. Although I had become more familiar with her, I was still a bit intimidated when around her. I constantly worried that I would sound ignorant because her intelligence awed me. Over lunch, I asked, a bit timidly, “I know this is a stupid question, but how does one get around in Venice? Can you only take boats?” She launched into an indepth answer about the transportation system in Venice, a city without cars and streets. At the end of her response, she looked me right in the face and said, “And there is no such thing as a stupid question.”

I was fortunate enough to be granted that internship. It was my first time abroad and away from my family, and at times I felt a bit worn out and overwhelmed. Sarah, the other Fellow who had gone with me, constantly volunteered for every task, both large and small. She was exhausted some times but still she pressed on. I volunteered for tasks as well, but she put me to shame. One day I asked her, “Sarah, why do you do so much more than the other interns?” She said to me, “I know it’s silly, but I always think of what Mentor would say. Sarah, they need volunteers. Why aren’t you volunteering?” Even in Mentor’s absense, her work ethic and ideals for excellence resonated with us. Sarah’s reminding me of that fact inspired me.

When I learned of Mentor’s illness – while I was overseas – I was hit very hard. I cried at work for several days in a row, and each time my supervisors sent me home to sit with the grief I knew was fast approaching. I couldn’t imagine not being able to have more lunches with Mentor, to ask her opinion on matters close to my heart, to hear her give those nuggets of wisdom I had treasured for the past two years. After those few days, however, I began to listen to the Mentor in my head, as Sarah had done. I thought about what she would want me to do: sit at home crying, or take full advantage of the internship she had wanted for me? I knew my answer.

It was not easy to finish the summer, and it was not easy to come home and learn the news that Mentor had passed away. I hadn’t had a chance to visit her, no chance to say goodbye except for the letter I emailed her from Venice. The last time I saw her was at our Launch Party in May, when she was wishing us well and we were all saying our goodbyes. We had all been on the verge of embarking on one of the most incredible experiences of our lives. Experiences we would not have had without Mentor.

Mentor was an extraordinary woman. My life is only one of the many that have been forever altered by her wisdom, grace and kindness. I loved her, and I still love her, and she is still with me."

Love & Chocolate

Scribbit is holding a contest that asks for blog posts about love. I entered with my "Sentimental Mush" post. First prize is chocolate!! :)

Monday, February 05, 2007

I posted this story over at the Feminist Pulse and had to put it here as well.

Serious issue: Girls Gone Bad

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Notes on a Scatterbrain

Boyfriend brought it to my attention that I am slacking on the blog. Well, I had noticed, but my recent drainage has left me feeling a bit empty. I am happy, but I am constantly busy and tired. I know it will pass, that it's just a small hurdle to get over, but I haven't felt like writing. Haven't felt like I had much to say.

Today Artsy Friend and I went to see "Notes on a Scandal." I wanted to see it because: a) I read the book a couple of years ago and b) Cate Blanchett is one of my favorite actresses. It was pretty good, too, but seriously creepy. Judi Dench played her role beautifully; I will most likely have nightmares about her tonight and it was not even a horror film.

We saw the movie at one of the Alamo Drafthouse movie theaters, which are so cool because there are waiters and you can order food and drinks while you're watching the movie. It was the first time I had been to one before.

I didn't make it to the church gig today. I got up, showered, and collapsed back in to bed after texting the woman concerning my flakiness. I always take on too much and then have to drop pieces of my life by the wayside. Sad, really.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Insane Ramblings

"See a penny, pick it up, all day long you'll have good luck."

Does that still apply if you just dropped the penny yourself?

I was wondering that the other day. You see, this is what my life has been reduced to. I feel like I'm stuck in the movie "Office Space."

I had a scintillating conversation with Bro this week about how good my box of chocolates is. It doesn't have any of the crummy filler chocolates you usually find. I immediately apologized for being so dull.


Yesterday was Groundhog Day. I waited at the bus as I always do - the tired girl with frizzy, wet hair wrapped in a brown coat, clutching an overstuffed cheap Chinese purse over one shoulder and carrying her lunch in a plastic bag. When I made it to the office, I enjoyed a Breakfast of Champions - a diet Coke and an orange.

Anyway, let's just say I'm glad it's the weekend.


(Short) Bulleted list of news:

* I am applying for a summer fellowship in Chicago on alternative journalism. It is very competitive and hard to get, which has me nervous because I really want it. I guess you never know until you try, or some shit like that.

* I got a job as a childcare worker at a Methodist church. (They don't ordain women, do they? I will have to put politics aside for money. How sell-out of me.) I start tomorrow morning. Pray for me, ye faithful, that these kids aren't monsters.