Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mikarose Giveaway

There's a giveaway going on over at the awesome blog Elegance Redefined. If you are not already reading  Rachel Hagen's blog, you really should be! She's a Utah interior designer with serious flair and style. Even if you aren't in the market to redecorate your house right now, you should read her just for the design and inspiration ideas!

Here's how the giveaway works- go to her blog, read about it, go to the Mikarose site, pick out the dress you would buy if you won the free gift certificate, and then go back to Elegance Redefined and leave a comment telling them which dress you picked! Tada! That easy.

Here's the dress I picked! Even if I don't win, I totally want this dress. I just lost 20 lbs, and I started on my second round of HCG today! I'm going to lose another 20!! And I want this dress to show off my new skinny self when I get there!!

Puppy Dog Eyes

This little puppy hasn't had one accident in 3 whole days. And, thanks to some french fry bribery, has learned the command for "SIT!"



Did I mention we changed her name to Duchess? Well, there you have it. Our little Duchess, the pure bred pit bull baby, with the biggest, brownest eyes in the world that you just can't resist.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Porter's Picture of the Day

I've been pretty sure my little nephew Porter is one of the cutest kids on the planet since the day the little guy was born. But then one day he started making "ships" out of Legos every day, and then I knew he was one of the cutest kids on the planet. And I'm not biased, so you know it must be true!
In collaboration with Porter and his personal photographer, my sister/his mother, Natalie, I will now be bringing you the occasional Porter's Picture of the Day of his beloved ships. He makes his little ships from scratch each morning, and gladly brings them to whatever audience will have him for praise and adoration. If you are lucky, he'll explain all the important parts, like the afterburners, and the landing gear, or where Darth Vader sits.
And as his unbiased aunt, I have to say, he's made some pretty incredible little ships for a 4 yr old!





Monday, September 28, 2009

Crush, Crush



I have a new crush. It is a big one this time, and this guy is very different from my past choices. He's better than most of the guys I've ever dated. And that's saying something, since I do hold most of my exes in very high regard.

I think he's somewhat interested back. But he runs hot and cold. One minute he's shy, the next he's flirty and affectionate. When we see each other, he gives me every reason to think he's interested. But I wonder if he thinks of me when we don't see each other?

I'm 34 and single. We can safely assume I've made stupid dating choices in the past. "He's Just Not That Into You" could have easily been written about me. This time I'm making different choices. I'm taking it all at face value. I won't dissect his every move, or lack thereof. I won't waste (too much more) time daydreaming about how cute he is. And I'm putting a time limit on it. This crush comes will have an expiration date.

But how long? I don't want to waste my time crushing on some guy that will never know I was sitting around pining away for him (again!). So how long do I give him to ask me out? And if nothing has happened by that date, I force myself to just give up and move along. Seriously, tell me how long! And honestly, do guys really ever actually ask girls out anymore? Or are we back to that whole hanging out thing again?
(I can't help myself. I'm a serial monogamist. I can't be interested in more than one guy at a time.)

Practicing What I Preach

I haven't been much of a blogger for the last few months. But I've decided to make a few changes, and one of those things will be improving my blog, and hopefully getting some new readers. Why? Because I work in social media, and it just seems silly that someone who consults other people on how to have a good blog doesn't bother to practice what she preaches.
Hopefully this means for you more interesting blog posts.
And for me it means getting more readers and that you will start clicking on the ads on the sidebars. (hint, hint)
Support your local blogger! Click an ad today!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I choose

It is my belief that sometimes we spend a lot of time looking for signs or answers to our problems. And then, once we receive a sign or answer, we spend even more time refusing to accept the answer and keep looking.
if you are a female, this is when you go directly into "HJNTITY" territory, asking all of your friends for advice and input, dissecting every little thing, and hoping for a different answer. And I'm not just talking about boys and affairs of the heart.
For me, and I can't speak for everyone here, I do this whether the answer is positive or negative. Even when I get what I want, I question it to death, wondering if it is the right way to go. For me it is even harder when my gut says one thing, but the answers all say something else.
But today I choose to do the logical thing. I choose to give up dissecting ambiguities and gray areas. From now on, it is black and white. If it is the answer that makes me happy in both the short term and the long run, I choose it. If it is the answer that only makes me happy in the short term, and not in the long run, I will not do it, unless the question involves Diet Dr Pepper. And if the answer means unhappy in the short term, but better off in the long run, I hereby choose to always do it. 
I choose to not make all things about me.
I choose to judge a person by their actions. 
I choose to believe that there are good people out there, even if they do not think or act like me.
I choose to judge others on the merits they present. Yes, I do choose to judge a book by its cover. If that is how someone wants to represent themselves, then that is how I will treat them.
I will accept people for who they profess themselves to be.
I choose to give all people the chance to be heard.
I choose to accept that just because they are different from me does not mean I am any better or worse than they are. We are all equal.
I choose to believe that I will like all people immediately. I will like them until they give me a reason not to. And then I will give them a second chance. And a third.
I choose to expand my horizons and experience something new frequently.
I choose to accept the answers given to me.
I choose to be happy.

Happy 90th Birthday, Pompa!

This week was the 90th birthday of my grandfather. Those of us who do not live nearby we're invited to send cards, "or something" to be shared with him at his birthday dinner party.

Here's my card-

And here's what Natalie's family made (the voices are a bit distorted. Natalie does not actually sound like a man!) Aren't my nephews cute?
 
My favorite part of the video is Porter in the last few seconds hitting the balloons. 

Friday, September 25, 2009

Love, Erin Style

You know those blogs with sweet sentimental pictures, or inspiring photos with deep thoughts? This is not one of those blogs.
This is about as close as you'll ever get to that crap around here.

If this picture doesn't describe love, I don't know what does.



If someone loved me, they would get me this-





Or maybe this




I think we all know I would rock the shirts way better than this model. And I wouldn't wear a bra that is totally visible under a blue shirt. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Foster Care and Adoption




Lately I've been getting frustrated with the process to become a foster parent. My life is moving on and moving quickly, and because I still have no idea if and when I will be getting a child, I can't make plans around a child's welfare. And I know I'm not the only one in this position. My friend Lindsay is going through a contested adoption over her youngest son. My friend, Sara, is in the process of adopting two little girls from Ethiopia. (Sidenote: Sara and Linds know each other as well. We all grew up in Oakton together.) And my friend, Richard Rieben and his darling wife, Valerie, who have "homemade" triplets, plus two "custom ordered" sons from Uzbekistan and Ukraine, are in the process of adopting two girls from Bulgaria. (each of the links go to each respective person's blog on their adoption journey)

As I read the blogs of each of these people, and I am overwhelmingly affected by how much we all have in common, in spite of the total differences in our situations. The major similarity in all of our cases is just how long this process takes, and how bureaucracy and red tape can screw things up.We all have good homes, and we have all been waiting forever to be cleared to receive our children.

I don't have many statistics on adoption. But I would like to share with you some stats on foster care here in Utah.

  • More than 36,400 complaints of child abuse and neglect are made each year.
  • Last year, approximately 19,878 complaints were investigated, and 8,268 were found to have some merit.
  • The most common complaints involved children witnessing domestic violence and being sexually abused.
  • Neglect accounts for 36 percent of children in custody.
  • 1,758 children entered foster care.
  • Substance abuse was a factor in 56 percent of children placed in foster care.
  • Sixty-seven percent of families receiving services have their children living with them in their homes.
  • There are 2,600 children under state care in Utah as of 9/22/09.
  • Typically a foster family receives $15 per day for care for infants and children and $18 for a teenager. In comparison, the average doggy day care or kennel charges $20 per day for animal care. 
  • Latino/Hispanic children are over-represented in foster care. They comprise 25% of the children in custody.
In spite of how grim and depressing the foster care world may sound to some, there are hundreds of good people and good homes out there waiting to take in a child. We're just all being held up by lack of funds and red tape. Did you know Utah cut the Children and Family Services budget by 8% this year? It may not sound like a large cut, but they were already horribly underfunded.

I get asked a lot why I want to become a foster parent. This weekend I had someone very directly look me in the eye and say, "WHY?" I know it surprises and shocks some people. Why would a single woman want to become a foster mother? Why would I want to give up my freedom and single lifestyle to be tied down to a child? And why would anyone want to take in a troubled youth, who has been abused, and will need counseling and therapy?

I don't have a simple or easy answer to give you. I can tell you that my whole life I have known I would be a foster parent and adoptive parent someday. When I was 12 years old and other kids wanted to be astronauts and doctors, I wanted to be a foster parent (I may not have ever written an essay on the subject, but I always just *knew* I would be some day). I have always believed that if you have been blessed with much, you should share as much. I am grateful to have a good income, the time, and the ability to provide for someone else. I also personally feel that a single woman, on her own, taking care of herself, is the best possible role model for a teenage girl in the system who is about to age out and be stuck on her own.

I wanted to be Brangelina, before Brangelina was cool. I wanted to be the Duggars before the Duggars were cool. (Wait, are the Duggars cool? I think they are.) For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to adopt a dozen children from around the world. I just never expected to be in my mid-30's and still single. I never thought I'd be starting on those life dreams so late. I do believe that children deserve two parents- both a father and a mother. And as much as I want to adopt children from Ethiopia, Vietnam, China, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and many other places, I won't do it alone. At least not yet. I have decided that if I am still single at 40, I will revisit the idea. But for now, I will stick with foster parenting. In foster care, the child already has two parents; I make three. Its unfortunate that the first two parents suck and don't deserve their child.


So I just sit and wait for someone somewhere to finish reviewing my paperwork. And I just keep making plans assuming there won't be a child in my life. I'll go to NYC each month, plan a trip to Scotland, plan a trip to VA, start making Christmas plans, and commit myself to more and more projects. And all the time wonder if and when a child is going to arrive in my life and throw all of this off? Is it really going to take a full year from the point I had my first in-take interview to actual placement? If the child doesn't arrive before Christmas, then yes, it will have taken a full year. Isn't that sad?

Pure, Unadulterated MayorJuliani

True to my word I will now be blogging about the wonderful and incomparable MayorJuliani. I made a deal that if you would submit your photo to my company photo of the week feed I would blog about you. Jules did it, and here's her blog post.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Juli/Jules/Mayorjuliani/Julipalooli/Julipalooza is one of a kind, even if she does have 5+ names (she also answers to Mom, Mommy, Hey You, and in theory Julianne, but the truth is, I've never heard one person call her by her full name). Jules and I have known each other for approximately 12 years now. And I have to say, life hasn't been the same since the day she walked into our shared bedroom and we agreed that didn't care if kept it clean or not. Life is too short to worry about clothes on the floor. A few months later my mother came over to surprise me for my birthday by cleaning up our whole house and leaving a present for me. But instead when she saw our bedroom she realized her plans to clean our whole house wouldn't happen, and she would barely have time to clean just our bedroom. Juli and I were both shocked to come home and find our beds made that night.

Things you don't know about Jules.




She's married to that guy.






She has really good graffiti handwriting.




She lets her daughters dress themselves.





If you make her a scarf, she will wear it. 


She has been rebuked (more than once) for activities in a Walmart.
One of her daughters once pole danced in a mall window.
She's a published novelist.
She's currently a full time student, mother, and volunteer.
She likes zucchini, but has never been heard to call it zucchini. She calls it bikini.
Has one of the dirtiest minds I have ever encountered, but she chooses to share it with a selective few.
Refers to her husband as the Big Hairy Man.
Is an awesome friend, loyal to a fault, and incredibly forgiving and understanding.



Monday, September 21, 2009

Let's Make a Deal

I'm trying to increase and improve the pictures in my company's Flickr account. We've invited the public to submit their pictures to our Flickr feed and I want to personally invite all of you to do it too! All you  have to do is tag your favorite travel/destination pictures with "CheapOair."
I know many of you have GREAT travel pictures! And I'd really appreciate it if you could help me pad the account with new pics! All you do is tag it! It still belongs to you. We're not taking it.
So here's my offer. If you will submit some pictures, I will dedicate a blog post to you. I will write a lovely missive about how great you are. How can you pass up that fame and fortune?
Please? Pretty please??

Friday, September 18, 2009

Support Big Brothers Big Sisters This Weekend!

YOU are personally invited to come out for a great night of fun at the Woodshed Bar and Grill in SLC to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah.

As you all already know, I'm a huge supporter of BBBSU, and I know you all love and adore my Little just as much as I do! This event is being put on by the Big Alliance and 100% of the proceeds will go to BBBSU!

BBQ 7 - 9pm // Live music at 9:30pm
$25 BBQ/Concert // $10 Concert
All you can eat Bella’s BBQ
Beer provided by Squatters
Music by Jagertown

The Big Alliance is a group of young professionals engaged in supporting the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah mission statement. All proceeds from this event to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah. For more information on Big Alliance or Big Brothers Big Sisters you may go online at www.bbbsu.org.

Clothing donations will be accepted to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters that evening as well.

This event is for everyone! (over the age of 21 that is) 

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Funny Nephews

From Natalie-
Porter:  I bought a new fly swatter and Porter walked around holding it saying, "I want to spank a fly!"
Dallin:  "Chicowa is the Chinese word for watermelon in Spanish."
Tell:  "Oh, you bought a fly swapper!"
 
(Natalie informs me that my blog is boring and doesn't have enough pictures. So I'm adding pictures just for her.)

Happy Birthday, Natalie!

Happy Birthday to my little sister, the mother of my nephews, best friend, and all around great person- NATALIE!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

It has been several weeks since the last time I heard from the foster care licensing people. I've had it on my daily to do list to call them and find out what's going on for a while now. But since I have no idea who I should be calling (remember how my last communication with them was being told that i mailed my forms to the wrong person when i put all of them in the self addressed envelope they provide?), I haven't called them yet. But today they called me! Yeah! I was thrilled for about 2 seconds to hear that someone actually was looking at my file!
And yet then the following conversation took place-
Her: I'm working with the Virginia agency that is doing your out of state background check.
Me: Okay, good!
Her: Your file has been sent back to us for review because some sections were left blank.
WTF??? Not possible. No freaking way did I leave a section blank. Trust me. It was a notarized form. I know I didn't leave it blank.
Me: Wha??
Her: You didn't fill out your spouse's name, birthdate, or other background information.
Me (outloud, for real): Are you freaking kidding me?
Her (totally serious): Yes, unfortunately, you did leave those blank and we need that information to continue.
Me (incredulous doesn't begin to describe it): Oh my hell!! I'm SINGLE!!!!!
Her (laughing): Oh! That makes so much more sense! Of course you left it blank then!
Me: Why is that so hard for people to understand?
Her: Oh, well, you should have written in 'not applicable' so that we'd understand.
Me: No offense, but I have no doubt in my mind that if I had written in 'not applicable' you would be calling me right now to insist that it is applicable and mandatory.
Her (again laughing): So true. These forms really are ridiculous sometimes. I figured you were probably single, but they insisted I call to make sure. Virginia wouldn't proceed without every blank filled in.
At which point I told her about my last phone call from them where they requested documentation or proof that I am single. She laughed.
Her: Well, for what it is worth, I can see here from your paperwork that you are a good person. I'm sure you'll find a good man someday.
Me: {grrr....}


(in case anyone wonders why I don't support government run healthcare, see the above story again. you really want these people deciding what kind of medical procedures you can get?)

Up, down, and all around

The last few days have brought a lot of unexpected developments into my sheltered little world. A few quick glimpses-
1. My quiet little world from home job suddenly wants me in NYC for a week each month. I'm very happy to do it, but it is also a huge change of pace and time expenditure for me. (Anyone want to visit me in NYC? I've got a fully paid hotel room!)
2. I have really enjoyed my first month of working with the Big Alliance organization. (They are an all adult arm of Big Brothers Big Sisters that does fundraising and service projects in the community.) In just this one short month I have been involved in planning an event (taking place this upcoming Saturday), and now will be involved in several more upcoming events. For those of my friends and readers who knew me in my old life back in DC, this is a familiar place for me. I have missed being involved in events and activities. It is nice to be able to do it for a good cause now (and not just for singles looking for dates). I have very little reason to be aware of the community around me sometimes. It is nice to have a reason to care again, and to be learning more about my community again.
3. I have set a goal to write at least 100 more pages in my book between now and Christmas. Think I will actually do it this time?
4. While in NYC last week I pitched a very out of the box and unusual marketing plan to my company. This will be a huge undertaking, and one with amazing potential and payoff. And the burden is all on me to make it happen! I'm very ready and excited to be up for the challenge. But I'll be honest with you. It is NOT easy to work from home sometimes, especially in social media, and to keep motivated and on task. Even when there is so much at stake! There are times when I miss being in a buzzing office environment with a little more accountability. I could really use that right now to get this project underway!
5. I have two major and very unusual side business projects in progress right now. Those two things alone could fill up a dozen blog posts! (and maybe some day will)


amended late Tuesday evening- And oh yeah! Sometime in the next few months I'm getting a foster kid!

So just a little craziness going on around here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mean Lady Update

My choir sang Friday and Saturday nights. I was on the look out for the Mean Lady. I wanted to make extra sure that I was standing nowhere near her. Thankfully I sat between some new-to-me women who's company I truly enjoyed. In fact, I predict that one of them and I will become good friends in the future.
It turns out Mean Lady isn't even a 2nd Soprano! She was standing over in the 1st Sops. This irritates me even more that she sat there and corrected me when she was the one sitting in the wrong section!
On Saturday night there was a photographer there to take a few group photos. As with any scenario where 300 divas are trying to be smushed into a standing arrangement for 200, there was a lot of talking and extra bossy people. No big deal. It was to be expected.
The director told everyone to be quiet and to listen just to the designated person. Most people did shut up and obey. But I took a little secret joy in seeing the actual director snap at the Mean Lady who was loudly bossing people around and telling them where to stand. She looked completely shocked to be scolded like that.
Yes, I know. Immature of me, but it felt really good.

Blog style update

I updated the blog to a more autumn appropriate style. The picture is of a famous bridge and valley in Scotland. I'm hoping the new style, colors, and picture will help me get in the mood for my upcoming trip to Scotland and Ireland. Besides, Utah's fall season lasts all of about 1 week if we're lucky. Blink and you miss it. I love the changing of the leaves and the fall colors. I really hope I get to go home to Virginia at the right time to truly appreciate fall this year.

Erin's 2 cents on online dating

There was some serious debate and discussion as to whether or not I should blog about online dating. First, do I really want to publicly admit that I've tried it? Second, no, wait, that was pretty much it. Oh and maybe there was some concern on the behalf of a few people that some of the current guys in my life would read this. I say letting those guys know what goes on inside my head can only be a good thing. If it scares them off, well, then better now than later, right??
In the end, Steph H was the one who put it best. "You are in your mid-30s, single, and LDS. Everyone already thinks you've tried online dating. So why not own up to it?"
Meh. Not my favorite logic, but it works.
Let's cover the basics. I work from home. I have no co-workers. I have very few close friends or family in Utah. (Or even non-close friends or family.) I'm in a family ward with a very very limited number of singles (I think there are 2 divorced mothers). My point? I'm up a creek when it comes to meeting new people. But I try. I really do try. And not just to find dates, but to find new friends as well.
Obviously, online dating seems like a reasonable way of meeting new people. And who are we kidding? I work in social media. I'm online all the time anyway. 

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Remarkable Use of Talent

I discovered this short video today over on Rachel Hagen's Elegance Redefined design blog. (If you love beautiful things, anything design, or just want to get to know a cool girl, you should be reading Rachel!) Like Rachel said, I hadn't planned on watching more than just a minute or two, but found myself unable to stop watching until the end. Kseniya Simonova is the winner of the Ukranian equivalent of America's Got Talent. Their show must be considerably different from ours, as she is about to entrance you with her sand painting set to music that tells the story of the German occupation of Ukraine during WWII.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

One Night in Gotham

Live from New York, its Wednesday Night! (okay, yeah, that was lame)

So here it is, a little after midnight New York time, and I am completely and in every way exhausted. But also in every way very happy and excited.
I left for NYC about 24 hours ago on the red eye. I took some Benadryl just before my flight in hopes of sleeping my way across the country. It worked- a little too well! I fell asleep before the flight took off, and woke up when we landed. I like it like that!
Unfortunately, I was so drugged up still (8 hour Benadryl dose, 4 hour flight- you do the math) that I could barely see straight. So I sat down in a seat in the airport terminal, just a few feet from the jetway I had just walked out of, and fell asleep hard for another hour or so. Let me just say, sleeping in an upright position on the flight, and then in a really awkward position in the terminal, bent over my briefcase, has not done good things for my back and neck muscles!
So I woke up, went into the bathroom to change, and got a good laugh. I walked into the ladies room wearing pink sweats, glasses, running shoes, and bad airplane-bed head. I came out wearing business slacks, a blouse, red trench coat, slicked back hair, jewelry, heels, and make-up. A lady in the terminal witnessed my transformation and called me Supergirl. (and she didn't even know that I was wearing a supergirl t-shirt under my sweats!)
I don't feel like giving the whole travelogue here, and that's not what you came for is it? But trust me, you want to keep reading. Why? Because my story will include Jerry Seinfeld in a minute.
So I went to work, which is the whole reason I am here obviously. Met with my team, talked to people, and did my big presentation regarding a big crazy huge marketing campaign I created. It got accepted by the team, and we're excited to move forward. This campaign will now be consuming my life for the next 9 weeks. I'm excited and completely terrified at the same time. More on that craziness later.
Having just been to NYC back in June, and knowing that I'll be making regular trips out here in the future, I wasn't feeling the need to go do anything very touristy. All I really wanted was a (Diet) Coke and a slice, and some downtime in my hotel room. A little peace and quiet away from the dogs, cats, and crazies in my house back home! But I heard on Twitter on Tuesday that one of my favorite comedians, Marcus, would be playing at the Gotham Comedy Club Wednesday night, and I couldn't pass that up. Its hard to get tickets to see him play in Utah, because he sells out. So I jumped on the chance to see him play at a fairly famous club in NYC.
I headed down to the club alone, not really knowing what to expect. And let me just say, there is no way I could have guessed what would happen next.
Having arrived solo, I was seated with two other single solo girls at a table right in front. One was visiting from Rhode Island, the other is on an exchange like program from England. We all hit it off nicely and enjoyed chatting. The first 3 opening acts were pretty good. At the end of the third opener, and presumably the last opener before Marcus, the emcee came back up and simply said, “Ladies and gentlemen, sometimes here at the Gotham Comedy Club we are honored with a few surprise celebrities and guests. You never know who you might see her.” (strange pause) “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mr Jerry Seinfeld.”
Suddenly, out of the freaking blue, Jerry Seinfeld himself walks out of the crowd and takes the stage. The audience had no idea how to react. There was a lot of laughter, cellphone pics, and just general amazement. There was Jerry Seinfeld!! THE Jerry Seinfeld!
There are HBO specials of his stand up work! He's one of the most famous comedians our generation will ever know. And suddenly he was standing there less than 5 feet from me, working a stand up bit.
He was hilarious. It was obviously all new material he was trying out. A few of the jokes were only so-so. But for the most part, the audience was roaring with laughter. He even used a cheat sheet at one point to help him through his jokes. He mocked people who use blackberries and Twitter a lot. Um, I resemble that remark!
I got a couple of quick pictures on my cell phone, but honestly, it felt wrong to be doing that. I noticed that when someone would hold up a camera, he turned away. So I didn't try very hard to get better pictures.
He looked just like “Jerry” always looks- white tennis shoes, jeans, and a button down shirt untucked. After a few minutes into his set, one of the girls at my table turned to me and said, “Am I delusional, or is Jerry Seinfeld really standing 4 feet from me with his fly unzipped?”
And then I looked closer. OMG. Yes, there it was. Only visible to our table with the stage right view when he'd lean forward and his untucked shirt would fall forward. Not only was his zipper down, it was completely and totally down. We're talking I could see his shorts down. Down down.
I saw Jerry Seinfeld, world famous and legendary comedian, do a secret and spontaneous set, with his fly down. You just can't make this stuff up!
(oh and marcus, who did finally go on after jerry, was hilarious as well.)
(picture evidence of seinfeld to come later)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The one where I try to convince myself I like being this busy

While I'm in the blogging mood this week I figure I'll blog again! Why not?
In about 24 hours I'm going to fly out to NYC on the red-eye. Its just a quick business trip to touch base with my team, remind my company I work for them and they should love me, pitch a major marketing campaign, and to eat NY style pizza. I'm not sure which part I'm more excited about- the pizza or the campaign?
Its my first time to take a red-eye flight in a very long time. It will be my first time to ever take a red-eye and then have to go directly to work and be expected to be productive. Heaven help me!! But this was my idea, so that I could control my schedule a little more this week and get back in time for Friday night...
Because Friday night is the Sterling Singers concert (mentioned in the post below)! And then we're doing the same thing Saturday night.
And then Sunday I'm getting in my car and driving to Las Vegas. I'll be back either sometime late Tuesday night or Wednesday afternoon. I'll be pulling triple duty in Vegas. I'm helping my sister Natalie with her new business venture, plus doing my job, and then trying to do all my freelance work as well.
And then there's some meetings, some freelance projects, and a fun fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters at the Woodshed in SLC. If you are in town, you really ought to come! We've got a great band, Jagertown, free food, and free drinks. Of course, you do have to pay the cover to get in. But its for a good cause- Littles! And you know you love Little!
Somewhere in all that I'm starting the HCG diet all over again. I've kept 18 of the 20 lbs off. (Of course, today I ate my first bread, sugar, and chocolate since early August! IT WAS DIVINE! And I couldn't finish it. So sad.) But I'm ready to go back on the diet and lose another 15 lbs hopefully.
By the end of the month either I'm flying to Virginia, or my parents are flying here. We haven't decided yet. Part of me thinks it would be nice to take a few days and just drive to Virginia for the nice quiet alone time (with doggy Kaya in the car). But then, I have a feeling I'd get tired of the quiet alone time somewhere around Nebraska.
I'm exhausted just thinking about it all. I think I'll go take my sleeping pill now and go to bed a few hours early!

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Day the Music Died or Mean People Suck

Every Sunday I go to choir practice for the Sterling Singers. I joined the choir a little over a year ago in hopes of getting to sing beautiful music and making new friends. Sing beautiful music? Check. Make new friends? Not so much. The choir is so big that rarely do you get the chance to sit by the same person twice, or even see the same person twice. But its no big deal that this isn't my spot for making new friends. I have had a wonderful time in the choir, and have enjoyed singing again.
Until last Sunday.
We are just 5 days away from a big show. We're singing some beautiful patriotic and inspirational music for a 9/11 tribute this week. Many of the songs are familiar and beautiful, and a few of the songs are very unusual and very challenging. Last week's rehearsal was very demanding as we put the finishing touches on two of our most difficult songs. Like many in the choir, I was struggling with a few of the passages in one particular number. We were rehearsing it over and over with the director until we got it right.
Normally I sit in the second sopranos section in the far back left of the room. But I arrived late last week (which is to say I was there only 5 minutes early- the choir is so big that people start arriving half an hour early in order to get the good seats!), and had to sit in a different area, away from my usual neighbors.
Forgive me now while I get a little wounded and rude.
We meet in an LDS Chapel, and sing in the actual chapel each week. The host ward has asked that we not wear jeans in the chapel, and to respect the room as it is still Sunday, and a room of worship. In the 60 rehearsals I have attended, only once have I ever worn pants. I always wear a dress to rehearsal. (For my non-Mormon friends- Mormons wear "Sunday dresses" still. You don't see women wearing pants to our servics.) This puts me in the majority, but I'm no longer surprised to see what some people consider appropriate attire. Sure, they aren't wearing jeans, but really, are scrubs Sunday worship appropriate? Or sweats? Or how about the lady that sat next to me in her capris and t-shirt?
Last week we had both a performance and a rehearsal on Sunday. As you know, I have lost a lot of weight recently. And as a result, NOTHING fits me anymore. At the performance I was wearing a dress that felt like it fit well enough when I left the house, but apparently I was wrong. I was totally humiliated when just after the show a woman (I had never seen nor met before) came up to me and informed me my skirt was falling down and was revealing my underclothing inappropriately. Of course, she would say this to me after the show, where I stood in the front row, and not before the show. There I had been worrying about my top falling off my shoulders, when apparently I should have been worried about my skirt instead! UGH!
So for rehearsal I figured I'd spare myself the humiliation and wore the only thing in my closet that fit- a pair of jeans I bought for $4 at D.I. last week. I figured if I wore it with heels and a nice top I'd still look nicer and more respectful than the scrubs and sweats I've seen at rehearsal.
So there I sat last week in a  new section, looking nice, but wearing jeans, and struggling with the music. That was when the Mean Lady wearing the t-shirt and ugly capris entered my life. I really don't like mean people.
I will guess that she's some sort of music or voice teacher. At the very least she presumes to have perfect pitch and better music skills than I do. And she may very well have better skills than I do. I don't care. I don't like her.
During the difficult passage I am not ashamed to say I sang a few wrong notes. It's not an easy part! Mean Lady turned, and told me which notes I was singing wrong. I was mortified. She doesn't have a quiet, inside voice. She said it with great authority, and with volume loud enough for those around me to hear. "You sang a D, the note is a C. Also, you are getting the entire run wrong, I think you are trying to sing the alto line, but at the soprano pitch. You need to fix it."
I wanted to cry. In a choir of over 250 people, its not like my one wrong note or voice is going to ruin a show. And it wasn't like I was the only one struggling. The director ran us through this part at least 10 times!!
So I tried harder the next time around, and sang much softer so hopefully she wouldn't hear me.
She turned to me and said, "Now you are flat because you have no breath support. You need to stand up straighter." (we were sitting at the time)
I almost walked out of the choir right then and there. I've never been corrected like that before. I'm not saying I wasn't wrong. I KNOW I was wrong. But it was humiliating for another choir member to be correcting me. Especially one I didn't know.
We moved on to the next passage in the song, one with a particularly tricky rhythm, and lots of dotted notes. I despise dotted notes, and I don't know why. Determined to get the notes right, and to not bother this woman any more, I lowered my voice even more, and concentrated fully on the piece. But those darn dotted notes! They get me everytime! Next thing I know, Mean Lady starts tapping the beat out on my knee, with hard jabs to let me know when the downbeat was! And then she looked down at my jeans and informs me we are NOT to wear jeans in the chapel! THE HORROR. (because her stupid 5K t-shirt was more appropriate??)
I shifted so that she wouldn't be able to reach my knee anymore. And then proceeded to only mouth the words, and not sing out loud. Oh, and choked back tears and a lot of rage at this woman.
Don't get me wrong. I know I wasn't getting it right. But this was rehearsal! This is where we come to learn! And I wasn't alone in my struggles!!
And I know a lot of this was just me being very sensitive. I hold no delusions about my musical abilities. My mother is flat out tone deaf. Don't believe me? Sit next to her in church someday and try not to laugh. Its bad! Sadly, I've inherited her ear. But I also inherited my father's family's love of music. And I managed to develop a fairly pretty singing voice. My love of music lead to a lot of technical training, that mostly has overcome my terrible "ear." I have to work twice or three times as hard as everyone else to learn a piece of music. I know that!
The truth is that I should be an Alto. I have a gorgeous Alto range. I can get down to a low F below middle C with beautiful tonality. But because I can also comfortably sing a high B, 2 octaves above middle C, I can also pull off being a Soprano. But there is not question about it, my Alto tones are much prettier than my Soprano. But with my terrible ear? Singing alto is out of the question when we are talking about the difficult pieces and fast pace at which my choir works.
I make a great choir member. I have an incredible talent for blending my voice with others. I can match their pitches, and match their tones quite well. My voice never sticks out in a crowd. I make good solid choir stock. I may have a crappy ear, but years of training has made me great at the technical stuff, like rhythm, dynamics, etc. Its just hitting those darn notes!! So I work hard and learn my notes, and listen to the people around me and match them.
I was once before humiliated in a different choir. I've never forgotten it. And it wasn't by the director either, but instead by the accompanist. She was yet another one of these perfect pitch types, who can tell you not just that you are on the wrong note, but which note you were singing instead. It was back in high school, and one of my groups I was performing with was learning a difficult number. Again, the director was running us through it, teaching us line by line. Maybe that time I was the only one on the wrong note. I don't know. I just remember the pianist stopping, standing up, pointing at me, and informing the world that I was on the wrong note. And then in front of everyone, she plunked out the notes, and made me sing along with it until I got it right. I felt like a fraud, like all of the talented musicians around me suddenly knew I was a phony masquerading in their pool of talent. My feelings were horribly hurt, and to be honest, I still hold a grudge against that woman today.
So back to Mean Lady. She continued with her "helpful" ways throughout all of rehearsal last week. I did my best to slide away from her, point my voice away from her, sing softly, not sing at all, and finally, just plain ignored her. But the damage was done. It has been a long time since someone has hurt my feeling regarding music like that. But it hurt. It hurt a lot. 
This whole past week I've been running that song over and over in my head and checking the music to see if I'm getting it right. But really, with my bad ear, how would I know? (I lack a piano to test myself against.)
Tonight I seriously considered not going to choir. I gave some thought to just not going to the performance as well. After all, I'm obviously still struggling with the music. But I went anyway. I figured one last rehearsal would help me, and if I didn't feel comfortable with the music I could just drop out of the performance.
Oh and I made darn sure to not sit anywhere near the Mean Lady.
But sure enough, I swear to you she walked in, spotted me, and intentionally came over to sit next to me. I'm sure she thought I would need her to tap out the beat on my knee again. I didn't give her the chance. I got up and moved 2 rows behind her and way down on the other end.
I worked hard tonight, listened to the director, and put extra effort into getting some of those tricky parts right. Mean Lady turned around and looked at me several times. I know I wasn't singing so loudly or off-key that she could hear me. In fact, I think I sounded good tonight.
.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Erin's Home for Stray Siblings, Children, Cats and Dogs

As of today Erin's Home for Stray Siblings, Children, Cats and Dogs has a new resident. The sweetest little puppy found its way into Scott's heart and came home with him. And well, it turns out puppy eyes are like kryptonite to me. I have no strength to resist them. I can't say no! And so, even though I'm pretty sure the last thing we needed was a puppy, little CJ is sleeping in my living room.
 
At least we think her name is CJ, we haven't completely decided yet. Its short for either Calamity Jane or Curious Jorge, depending on who you ask. Both names are very appropriate to this little pup. She's a sweetie, and thus far, well-behaved. But my goodness is she a cute little puppy klutz! She falls downstairs, or suddenly becomes overwhelmed by gravity and just topples over, or my favorite, fails to realize the overhead dangers of walking under a larger dog. 
Speaking of larger dogs, big doggy Kaya has taken quite kindly to the puppy. She's mothering it and being very protective of it so far. She's also being her usual self and gets quite jealous if anyone dares pay too much attention to the puppy and not her. 
Kaya also took her first trip to the groomers today. I may have told them to shave her just a little too close! She looks like an idiot now! I'll have to take a better picture of her tomorrow. In this picture she just looks possessed!
  
They shaved her coat nice and short, which looks fine I guess. I just have to get used to the way it looks. But they didn't thin out her ridiculously huge tail at all! Scott says she looks like a 'squirrel dog.' I have to agree. 
As usual the big cat, Stinky, is off visiting his other homes right now, and hasn't been home to meet CJ yet. (We have a theory that Stinky has possibly been adopted by another home somewhere, and he just bounces between families. Next time he comes home, I'm forcing him to wear an ID tag and a collar with a bell.) Tiny Kitten, who still fears leaving our yard, and thinks grass is the enemy, has met CJ. Tiny isn't one for welcoming much of anything into his house. He just merely tolerates everyone's existance. And it pretty much goes the same for CJ. Tiny just keeps his safe distance and watches the puppy. 
This house has gone from being big and empty to suddenly feeling very full and cramped! 2 cats, 2 dogs, a brother, the brother's girlfriend, and me, all running around in here! Good heavens! 
Oh and did I mention I've applied to foster and mentor a monkey? And no, I'm not joking.

Good Customer Service From Sprint

We complain about bad customer service so often online these days, that when I receive good customer service, I want to share that as well.
My Blackberry/phone/lifeline to everything suffered a major malfunction this week. It has been a long time coming. The mini-usb port on the side that is used for charging the device broke. For the last several weeks I've had to wiggle the charger around until the phone acknowledged it. As a result, my phone hasn't been fully charged for weeks. But I've gotten by. Until 2 days ago when suddenly I couldn't get it to charge for more than 2 minutes, and even then I had to be pinching it and holding it 'just so.'
Finally today it gave up the ghost completely and couldn't be charged at all. I have researched spare batteries and external chargers for my phone in the past and found they cost roughly $85! So I went on eBay and found exactly what I was looking for for $14. There was just one major problem, I won't get it from the seller for about 5 days.
Me? Without a phone for 5 days?? Not possible.
So I went down to the Sprint store hoping maybe they could charge the battery I currently have. And I sort of secretly wanted to check out other phone models. I walked in, explained the problem to the sales guy, expecting to have to leave my phone or battery with him for a few hours. Instead, he smiled, said no problem, popped my old battery out, and popped a brand new, freshly charged one in. And then said come back when I need to get it charged again.
That is what I call stellar customer service.
I then hinted I wanted to see the new fancy phone. There was no hard sales push on me- the girl with the broken, older model phone, that should have been the obvious target sale. Instead, the sales rep pulled out his own personal phone (the fancy one), and let me play with it. He showed me the fun bells and whistles. We talked pricing and plans. And then he encouraged me to go home and think about it, and come back when I need the next battery, and check the new phone out again.
No hard sale? No pressure? No making me feel like a loser for not being able to afford an expensive phone on a whim!
I loved it! I admit I was seriously considering leaving Sprint (after being with them nearly 10 years!) for an iPhone compatible service. But after the great customer service today, I'm sticking with Sprint for a good long while more.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Who needs a blog when you have Facebook and Twitter? (and phones, and texting)

I have a confession to make. It's 8:47 pm and I'm in bed. No, I'm not sick. I'm just exhausted. It has been one long week.
Remember way back when when I first started this blog how I was doing all sorts of fun things? I'd go on weekend camping trips, or go to Duck Beach for a week? And all of the fun dinners and parties I went to? What happened to all that?
My life is so incredibly different now that I barely remember how it is I ever used to do all of that. My weekends now are spent gardening, cleaning the house, and grocery shopping. I varely recall that I used to be the queen of midnight shopping trips. Granted, that was all back in a city that had 24/7 grocery stores, as compared to my current grocery store that has an awesome sign up that says "24/7, closed Sundays."
So you'll have to excuse me a bit when I say this past week felt something almost like the old me, and yet, was nothing like the old me.
Monday- work,work, work. Pick up Little for the unusual school night sleepover.
Tuesday- wake up at 4:45 am, wake the kid up at 5 am, head into the city to be on the 6 am news. Why? Because we're cute. And we were doing a promo spot for Big Brothers Big Sisters every ten minutes for a few hours. Little loved it. Even my dog got to do her own promo spot and be cute.
Tuesday night- put on my sparkly pink shoes and head over to Heidi's house. I was really just going over to babysit while she and Dave went out. But since her kids think my name really is Fairy Godmother, I had to go in Fairy Godmother-lite clothing. I had on a fancy necklace and the sparkly shoes. You'd be amazed the powers I have over small children who think I'm a magic fairy godmother. Oh and then Heidi and I stayed up talking till 11:30.
Wednesday- I worked 14.5 hours. And cleaned my house for my brother's triumphant return home from south Texas. And made dinner for a neighbor who just had a baby.
Thursday- I worked, I shopped, I did lunch. And on my way home, my neighbor called to say her 4 yr old's princess party needed a little excitement. So I ran home, put on my fairy godmother costume, sparkly shoes, tiara, and wand and bravely walked across the street (where, oh yes, it must be added, I stopped traffic! Someone was driving by, and literally stopped to turn and look at me in my get up.). I played fairy-princess-godmother-queen games with the girls for a few minutes, and came back home. You should have seen their little faces when I suddenly appeared in the yard. Their jaws all dropped and they all stood still for a minute. And then they all ran at me in a little princess pack that cracked me up. 2 of the little princesses (including the birthday girl) know me. But the other girls were all very willing to call me Fairy Princess Godmother. I think the cutest part was that the little princesses all ran off and picked my "flowers." The flowers were really just some weeds from a neighbor's yard, but still it was very cute.
All in all, a fun and busy week in progress here. And now you know why it is 9:15 and I'm ready for bed.

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