Friday, February 27, 2009

Pressure valve

It's one of those Fridays.

You know, the ones that mark the end of one of those weeks.

My boss and I were making inane chatter at the end of the work day...laughing where we could just so we wouldn't cry. It was that bad.

I told her that I had somehow written a pretty darn perky editor's note for an upcoming issue.

She said she didn't know I was a fiction writer.

giggle giggle

For the record, it's not my fault that the liquor store is right on my way home.

And I can't be held responsible for the fact that The BMan and his tribe are coming over tonight for wine, Wii and maybe even some food.

Timing? Is everything.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The list of Ps and Qs

We're not militant about much around here, but we do remind the kids to always use their polite words...please, thank you, and excuse me.

A friend and I were sitting in the kitchen chatting the other day when Muggsy ripped off a burp that I'm sure came straight up from his toes.

Me: "Muggs! What do you say!"

Muggsy: "Good one!" [beams from ear to ear]

Me: *smacks forehead*

It all completely unravels courtesy of Mr. O's inner child. Which influences them at the most, um, opportune times.

Don't even ask about pulling fingers.

Monday, February 09, 2009

1,052,640 minutes

In and among other anniversaries, today is one too.

Two years ago today I officially became a litigant, an unwilling participant in an epic battle of egos between a student and his mentor. A power struggle that was born when student became boss and mentor became subordinate.

I am neither student nor mentor, boss nor subordinate. I'm just the booby prize.

I've been enjoined, I've endured electronic data discovery of proctological proportion, and I've had former co-workers who were also dear friends ripped from my social circle.

Mr. O and I will be cleaning up a financial mess for years to come. But I'll forevermore be able to correctly spell subpoena.

And now we finally have a trial date. That light at the end of the tunnel doesn't appear to be a freight train, either.

Friday, February 06, 2009

I write, therefore I am

I remember so vividly being taken out of my language arts classroom in 6th grade, along with two other girls, to go meet with an education "specialist." The terror of not knowing exactly what this meant ate at the pit of my stomach for the long walk through the hall, down the stairs, and around the corner into the area of the school that I had never seen before.

I was being placed in a small group of "gifted" students. To write. Just for the sake of writing.

Since then, I've never hesitated to call myself a writer. I even tried to make a career in journalism, although TV was out because I talk with my hands flailing and my eyebrows rocket off my forehead when I'm making a point. Since TV where the money is, I landed in marketing instead. I just wrote here and there, whenever I could.

But I always wrote.

Then someone told me about blogging. That was back in October 2005. I put up two posts with the intention of using the blog to stay in touch with friends and family, but other things soon got my attention and I never got back to it.

I had no idea that the seeds of a community had been planted and a forest of citizen journalists was taking over the online world.

By the time I jumped back into blogging in January 2008, that forest was truly enchanted. I became a bloghopper. I voraciously read first person accounts of life all over the planet, written with heart, humor, humility or hubris (or a little bit of all).

When I discovered how to use my Google Reader, I began to feel the same rattling physio-psychological anxiety as a drug addict who is suffering withdrawal when I couldn't spend time to read posts as they came in.

A journalist somewhere figured out that the old rules of unbiased reporting could be thwarted by expressing personal opinion on a blog, and I started reading those, too. The insight to be gained at the keystrokes of a journalist, minus an editor's thumbprint on the top of his or her head, was something to behold.

And, having been a part of "old media" when I wrote for a suburban Chicago newspaper (almost 20 years ago), I've watched the struggle as some outlets have made a transition to on-demand content while others are failing miserably. The turf war going on is fascinating to watch, especially when the two sides rumble.

Like they did here.

The fallout is only beginning.

So, yeah. I'm in. Blogging is the new media, the way people are getting information on their own terms. Free agency at its best.

Blogs are not seedlings that can be stomped on in hopes they'll wither away so the 100-year old oak trees can continue to tower.

Even the oldest and tallest of oak trees eventually die, giving way to new growth as a matter of natural course.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

BusyDad, Fury, LEGOs...and ME???

As milestones go, I'm somewhere near 100 posts on this little blog of mine. And also somewhere near my one year anniversary of blogging on a regular basis.

An occasion, indeed.

It was way back when that I "met" Jim at BusyDadBlog. His blogroll was my original source. If there's one person who is responsible for my addiction to reading blogs when I should be doing something else, it's him.

We've swapped comments along the way, although he stands out just a tad bit more among the usual two or so on my posts. I'm one of dozens on his. But we somehow struck up a connection via email over the past year.

A few weeks ago I casually mentioned that I'd be in Anaheim on business, knowing he was nearby. Would he, for whatever banal reason, be interested in meeting up? You know, live and in person?

He said sure. I said.....

Well, I think it took me four days to respond to that email.

In less than a week I had to become funny, insightful, quick-witted, and a multitude of other traits I only dream about claiming.

Really. BusyDad! Not only is he one of the most popular dad bloggers out there, but his son is the cat's meow. And Fury would be part of the package deal for our meet-up.

Ever have anxiety over impressing a 6-year-old? It's debilitating.

Turns out Real Jim is the same engaging, attentive, funny person he is online. An authentic personality. A good egg.

And I'm here to confirm that his kid effortlessly steals the show.

Me: Hey, Fury. Can I take a picture of you?
Fury: Sure. Is it for your blog?
[think he's done this before?]

Me: Let's get our server to get a photo of all of us.
Fury: Yeah! We can all hold up LEGOs!
[Jim writes about LEGOs. Jim gets free LEGOs.]

But the highlight of the evening? Spitball 101 from Professor Fury.

Really, could he BE any cuter?

It was somewhere around midnight that we interrupted our animated conversation and looked over at Fury. Although he was happily racking up points on a driving game, we agreed we were on borrowed time before the good behavior gods released him from service (my own 6-year-old is Old Faithful in that department).

:: sigh :: All good things must come to an end.

Meeting my blog hero and his MiniMe was a spectacular way to celebrate 100 posts and one year.

Jim, you are one of a kind. Thanks for graciously introducing me to this world that has become such a big part of me.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Paper Nirvana

As if I don't already love my job with every fiber of my being, I'm forced (forced, I tell you) to attend an annual trade event that is essentially Disneyland for paper crafters.

I really could have photographed every single thing there for one reason or another, but these are the ones that drew me back for second and third drools.

Graphic 45 is a cute little company that has a flair for vintage. This line, Communique, just sent me over the moon:

And this vignette gave me all the inspiration I need to finish off our living room/office and dining room:

Now, I'm not a scrapbooker...card making is my real passion. But the color and composition of these two layouts from Teresa Collins will definitely show up in a few cards I'm making:

As if their booth and brand identity weren't already the cutest ever, the jewel tones and deep saturation of the Zinnia collection from Little Yellow Bicycle just grabbed me from the start:

And then I found these happy flowers...these, well, Pretty Poppies by Kezia Whitteker for Autumn Leaves:

Kezia also did this one, called Wellies and Brellas -- is that name just the best, or what?

Down the way and around the corner, in the Pink Paislee booth, was the Pop Fashion Collection -- this color combination was so unique that I stopped in my tracks to take a closer look:

And I'm already a huge fan of BasicGrey, but their new Porcelain collection (designed by a good friend, who also does a lot of work for us at the magazine) is just beautiful -- and perfectly named:

We eventually wandered over into the new exhibitor area. I have to give props to anyone who has the passion and drive to start up a new venture in this saturated market, and there were three in particular that I thought were da bomb.

First up, and although it sounds kinda iffy, there was FancyThat! and its decorative packaging tape. Now, if you think inside the box (ouch. sorry.) and consider using it only as packaging tape, I do agree that the wow factor is suspect. But when you get one very animated owner/founder (Deborah Curry -- she's a walking talking infomercial!) showing you all the paper crafting options, mind sure went all over the place with ideas. I think I will love this stuff.

Then, because I am a total nut for kraft anything, the Jillibean Soup booth was like a magnet to my steel. They had a fun and very cute make-n-take card (yes...a card! They get it!), so we spent a good amount of time in their booth. They also have a very clever naming scheme for their products.

My favorite line...Cold in soup (get it?):

And following closely behind that, Cream of Mushroom (which also comes in a kraft version):

The other thing I thought was pretty dang smart about their collections is they understand that not everyone is batty for kraft, so they offer just about everything on a white background, too. And bonus -- the white and kraft designs blend together beautifully.

Lastly, we were completely enamored with this little company called Bella Blvd. Not only are the designs fresh and fun:

...but the high-energy and absolutely delightful owner, Stephanie Hunt, is pure power in a pretty apron. This gal is 25 years old, has successfully launched her own company in less than 6 months, and had buzz all over the show floor. I'm keeping an eye on her. She's from Wisconsin.

Aside from all the product, I sure had fun with my iPhone and mobile Facebook at the show, uploading photos to my wall as well as the Paper Crafts wall. Now all I have to do is stop drooling over my photos, get my hands on some real product and then tuck myself away in my little paper crafting corner of heaven at home. I'm inspired!