Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Flirty Floppy Bow

Never buy lingerie with the expectation that anyone will see it, I reminded myself, meeting my reflection's gaze in the hotel mirror as I brushed my teeth. I wore a new bra, carefully selected for the blend of sexy black lace and a flirty floppy bow in the center.

"No one will see you," I told the fabric, trying to be matter-of-fact but knowing I sounded sad. "But you are very pretty," I offered consolingly. And once I finished dressing, I'd recovered my professional composure and finished tucking the last few items in my suitcase.

Once I'd finished answering questions and evaluating presentations, I made my way home. And found that traveling while being overly thoughtful is nearly torturous.

There was, you see, an invitation. Since I issued it, I can admit that it was rather tentatively given and more implied than explicit. But the pretty bra with its small, floppy bow remained hidden to all but me and the little black dress stayed folded atop the impractical black pumps I'd packed while battling nervous anticipation that, in the end, was moot.

The worst part, I decided, was the waiting. And in lieu of a refusal, there was simply silence. And in the absence of certainty, my mind can spin all sorts of reasons why I'm undesirable and unrealistic and undeniably neurotic. And I hate waiting for email - the dreadful droop of the shoulders when Gmail looks for but fails to find new messages. When the caller ID stubbornly indicates only my parents or colleagues have called. And while I wonder what the hell is so wrong with me, I can come up with a ridiculously long list.

Feeling simultaneously pathetic and sad, I would talk myself into a better mood throughout the day only to drift back into a lingering sense of disappointment. And I realized I'd pushed so hard to meet - had prepared myself for a brief affair - because I didn't want to grow attached. I didn't want to wait for email or care if he didn't call. I wanted to be confident and self-sufficient, charmingly sassy with my wonderful life and job and house and, I don't know, dog.

Yet there can't be some potential reward without risk. Some potential gain without at least a little discomfort. And while I am hurt - it's OK to be honest about that, right? - it is not the agony past situations have elicited. It's rather an intermittent ache that fades when I'm distracted but appears when I picture the black dress I moved to the back corner of my closet or lingerie I moved fondly under its more practical counterparts in the drawer when I arrived home.

Tomorrow I will lead two meetings with global participants. Next week I will speak in front of about 300 people and will do so with knowledge and confidence and pride that I can contribute to a vocation I find rewarding and important. In two weeks, I'll go home and give the Ones their birthday gifts (a bouncy thing for Smallest - looks fabulously fun to me - and Squinkies (do you know how hard it is to find these squishy little suckers?!), Zoobles and Silly Bandz, none of which I completely understand but all of which I almost want for myself) and am quite excited about being a good Aunt Katie, who comes bearing gifts. I'm going to Asia, which now strikes me as more terrific than terrifying.

So I'm fine. I'm good. I've had a bath, read a book, wrote on my blog and I'll go to bed. And the ache will dissipate. And maybe - eventually - I'll try again.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What Ifs

Do you ever lie awake at night and think - if offered one wish - what you'd want? Or - given the ability to travel backward in time but retaining all present knowledge - which point in your life you'd select?

For years after college, I thought back to one evening with Gabe - remember Gabe? - when we sat in the living room of my apartment. I remember looking at him and shivering - he was just so wonderful - and smiling sadly as I said he should go. He had a girlfriend at the time and we'd finished with whatever excuse I'd used to lure him over.

"I have a headache," I told him and cocked my head when he asked if I wanted a back rub.

"We could go to your room," he offered and I stared at him while my stomach flipped and eyes dilated. And I wanted to - to acquiesce and walk with him down the hall. To lie down on my bed with the fluffy comforter decorated with botanical pictures and their Latin names and close my eyes while he touched me.

I broke eye contact a moment later and shook my head. I thanked him for the offer, replied that, yes, I was sure, and opened the door so he could leave. And I returned to my room and that fluffy comforter decorated with botanical pictures and their Latin names and sat on the edge before curling into a ball. Wishing I were braver. That I was able to easily take risks. To get what I wanted.

If I could do it again, I often thought as sleep eluded me, I'd say yes.

The wish - the temporal point - shifted after several years. There was another moment - another invitation - I declined. I was deeply involved in a flirtation with Pete - remember Pete? - and everything was sexy and exciting and wonderful. I'd complained about a lonely and boring weekend and, as I wanted and expected, he said something like he wished I was where he was.

Then he did as I wanted but did not expect and invited me to join him. He had access to a vacation home and was house-sitting for friends. It was on the beach and had a fireplace and, I recall, a couch that played heavily into one of my favorite fantasies. I blushed when I read it, wanting so desperately to go that I could envision it with absolute clarity.

Not yet, I thought. I'm not thin or pretty enough, somehow not ready to meet him and encourage him to love me. I wanted him so much yet was too afraid to take him. So I pretended he was teasing and flirtatiously replied that if I thought he were serious, I'd be on a plane.

Given the chance to do it again - even knowing it would not alter the unpleasant outcome - I would have eagerly accepted the chance to leave the center of the country for a day or two. Even had nothing happened - had it been awkward and awful - I would have known.

Because I would have said yes.

The third time was different. Given the opportunity to meet a random person - you don't remember him because he didn't rate a post, actually - who once read my blog and with whom I was attracted, I did say yes to meeting. And I would have gone, I realized with some sense of awed dismay. And, were there mutual interest, I likely would have gone further.

Alas, it was not meant to be. And I'm fine with that - no need for a do-ever - because I wasn't the one who refused.

Given that initial proof of concept, I decided I'd not miss another opportunity were one to occur. There is one - or at least the possibility of one - at hand. And though my natural reserve remains strong - I am not inherently sexy, difficult as that must be to believe - the difference now is that when inhibitions were once reinforced by additional thought, I now think of sleepless nights and anguished regrets and am braver. More willing to take risks.

I may not get what I want - with this particular chance or any chance, really - but it won't be for refusing to try.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Incessant Interruptions

"There's no place like home," he quipped and I meant to smile but grimaced instead.

"I like them," I told him, summoning my patience while looking down at my sparkly red shoes. I'd worn a dress in a navy print - mostly because I enjoy the way it swirls around my knees - and as I currently lack blue shoes, I'd paired it with darling red flats and nodded when called Dorothy most of the day.

"Remember when I sent you that thing?" he asked without further comment on my shoes.

"About football?" I guessed, squinting as I tried to remember and blinking when he beamed at me. "I recall the email," I confessed, "but not anything about the actual topic." I sighed, wishing I'd lied when he took a seat across from my desk and trapped me in my office while talking (and talking) about his pet project.

He'd just left, allowing me to return my attention to email, when Adam entered to occupy the same chair. He placed a sheet of paper on my desk, stole a pen from my mug and began to scribble. I considered ignoring him while I finished the 8 messages I'd drafted but manners (and affection for my job and desire to keep it) won out and I moved my chair closer to view his notes. I started to revise that project per his urgent request and was happily moving text and searching for figures when another visitor appeared at my door.

A friend walked by not long after and I frowned when I realized she was crying. So I pushed my work aside and grabbed my keys to take her to lunch.

I'd barely finished Adam's project when my phone began to ring. And the list of carefully organized priorities I'd written this weekend went untended as I dealt with "extremely urgent" issues.

"I'm going home," I finally announced after a meeting had dragged on for an extra hour due to the continued addition of latecomers. And while I didn't click my heels together three times, my shoes did make me smile as they sparkled in the sunshine before I climbed in my car and began my quick commute.

I flopped on the loveseat and greeted my ever-happy canine, pulling my laptop from my bag even as I giggled and fended off kisses. There, in the quiet of my living room and with only a napping dog for distraction, I finally finished my email and read through various documents. I made changes to presentations and accepted meeting invitations. Then I curled up in pajamas to watch CBS because I believe The Big Bang Theory to be very funny.

Yet just as I started to relax and prepared to write my blog post, the phone calls started at home.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


While mowing my lawn at dusk, (I don't like to be hot), the front wheel slipped off the edge of the curb and the blades hit the metal drain nearby. An impressive orange spark appeared along with the clang heard over the mower motor and I jerked the device back while wondering how much damage I'd done.

I shrugged before continuing my clipping path, finally finishing and deciding my yard looked rather nice, courtesy of the trimming my parents had done last weekend. I showered off the sweat and pull on clean pajamas, snuggling into my sofa and opening my laptop.

Surprisingly enough, I've not been obsessing over what to do with this space. It is bothersome that that I've acquired unfriendly readers, but it's also unsurprising. So while posting will remain hit or miss, where else would I put photos of Japan in a month? Or share that I still can't eat with chopsticks?

I have, however, been hinting that I'm less than satisfied with my romantic situation. After two years of being trained to make optimal priority and scope decisions, I've taken a new look at this and decided I don't necessarily want children. Therefore, marriage is totally optional in my situation - I have my own stuff and can afford it. I'm befuddled when people apologize that I spend a weekend alone. "No," I want to correct them, "I love it. It can be sleepy and quiet - I watch television and read books and go for walks. I eat what I want when I want it and only answer the phone if I feel like it. Then when Monday comes, I actually want to see people again - laugh and talk and enjoy!"

So, I decided, squinting at my mental list of necessary male qualities, if I don't have plans to reproduce or even introduce this person to my family or colleagues, that removes a number of prerequisites. If the specific aim is an event with sparks - attraction and satisfaction and the like - then the whole matter is greatly simplified.

I have therefore Done Something.

And I have a Plan A and Plan B. (There are also plans C-F, but I've not completely thought through them. The point is that late 2010 is the Affair.)

This could be, of course, an unmitigated disaster wherein I become a syphilitic shell of my former self. But I plan to be careful and am aware of the risks. The alternative, you see, is being mind-numbingly boring. And I'm tired of the only sparks I mention come from a lawnmower accident.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


The weather has shifted, storming from miserably hot and humid to a more moderate, breezy state in the past couple of days. I have taken to walking outside, forsaking the tunnels that connect the campus, and have found it's much easier to smile at those who pass by.

I returned home from another day at the office - this week has been a bit of a grind, truth be told - and wrinkled my nose over the heat of my house. It was a reasonable 76 degrees on the thermostat, but I missed my normal 72. I decided to watch television in the basement before coming upstairs to bed and, upon climbing the stairs, turned on the air conditioning unit my parents brought me this weekend.

They announced their plans to visit as they left their house, leaving me pleasantly surprised that I'd have house guests last weekend. Their primary mission was to deliver said cooling device - they'd kept it when Brother had no more use for it and claimed it was perfect to keep my bedroom at my favored Arctic temperatures without having to spend a fortune cooling the remainder of the house. Away it blows in my corner, venting neatly out the window through a system Dad designed.

I also have neatly trimmed bushes along my front walk and sparkling clean bathrooms. We talked and ate and watched DVDs of The Big Bang Theory and laughed. It was simple and lovely.

The work week has been riddled with arguments, leaving me tired and shaky during some moments, but I'm blessed with colleagues who are quick to agree when I suggest going out for a meal or drink so I can decompress. So far this week, I've whined over cheesecake with Sibling, ate guacamole with Sibling while looking out over a lake and joined my entire team for happy hour when we finished a visit early.

I'm struggling with guilt over something for which I should be ashamed. I'm thinking through a plan that's as odd as it is forbidden. I find myself hesitant to write about either, and realize I've come to think of this as a moderately unfriendly space. The knowledge that some readers actively dislike and disapprove of me is fine on some level. Yet I'm unwilling to be as open as I once was in the face of what could be harsh judgment. Which irritates and saddens me before I remember I have other facets of my life that leave me feeling very lucky overall.

So I've watched people write final posts with the thought that I should probably go next. I've considered other blog names and rejected the idea of starting over. There's a certain continuity that appeals to me and this space - these words - do - for better or worse - represent who I am and what I've done in some sense. Password-protecting doesn't appeal to me, nor does publishing abbreviated feeds (though both are obviously wise). I am, quite simply, unhappy with the situation but unwilling to change it, which neatly removes any real ability to whine about it.

So I'm likely to remain mostly boring - redacting anything interesting or revealing but incapable of giving it up completely as I remember days where I couldn't sleep unless I'd posted something on my blog. These days, I rely more on the air conditioner next to my bed and being exhausted from work, but I'm resting pretty well.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lesson Plan

I take it as a sign that the economy is beginning to recover in the private sector as there has been a flurry of movement this summer - people are going and coming and shifting about. There have been relevant vacancies in two adjacent teams that have caused a considerable number of requests of help to head my way. Luckily, I'm in a bit of a lull at the moment when it comes to travel and tasks so I'm able to help out.

There are a number of areas where I'm useful from giving seminars, talking to customers, organizing meetings and streamlining tedious tasks. One area where I've never been great is teaching. And that's one of my 'could you pitch in?' requests.

I used to have designs on teaching, wobbling around my parents' basement in high heels to scribble on chalkboards, scold imaginary troublemakers and dutifully grade papers I'd filled out myself. I grew out of that pretty completely, managing both my graduate and postdoctoral training without giving so much as a quiz. I can have conversations. I can answer questions. But writing on whiteboards and grading tests? It doesn't sound like something I'd do.

I'll admit I did a bit of scrambling to try to get out of it, but when Adam frowned at me and suggested I grow up, I pouted for a mere moment before scattering materials across my desk and beginning to look bewildered. Growing up was the problem, I decided. I respect teachers deeply and know from experience that those without passion and planning suck. Sometimes hard and deep.

Taking a breath, I began scribbling some notes. I do understand my topics - there are four - and have materials on each of them. But I'm often (gently) criticized for being overly technical (and talking too fast and using flowery language) so how much detail is appropriate? Am I trying to sell something? Or use it?

As with most tasks in Industry, there are protocols to follow. So I went about filling in the blanks and copying/pasting my little heart out so that I had the proper material captured. I calculated it out and decided my meager 1 hour was stuffed full of about a day's worth of material. And there's nothing more disrespectful to students that droning on about irrelevant crap for longer than you're allocated number of minutes. (Which is exactly why I used to skip classes - total waste of time in some cases.)

So I have started writing out objectives and summaries and working backward. And it's hard - deciding what's important and how to explain it in an engaging and memorable way. I've now put several days into a project that would have taken members of a neighboring team about an hour. I know too much, they say, and I'm making it too complicated and important. So I return to my work and keep shoving material into the supplementary section in case there are questions and think wistfully of travel and presentations and tasks that come easily.

I reached one page and blinked at it, realizing I was to write test questions. It has been a long time since I've taken a test, frankly, and I've grown much better at the surveys that you take after calling customer service or completing a corporate course. Where you rate your teacher (I'm going to get crushed - I already feel it) and discuss what you learned so that said instructor can improve.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mostly Irrelevant

I dreamed of a journey through the darkness. Of arriving in a place with ornate buildings and elegant sculptures, at one point scrambling through an alleyway of multi-colored stones scattered around lizards that sparkled under streetlights.

I reached a circus and gasped at the force of the sound and light, masses of people gawking at the performers as they did dangerous tricks with fire and sharp objects against a backdrop of gargoyles standing guard upon various structures.

I didn't belong there so I withdrew, rushing through the alleys and streets with stumbling steps as I tried to retrace my steps. Confused in the darkness and wincing from the noise, I turned in various directions, trying to read signs and remember directions that eluded me. There were shops at some intersections and they were all closing, pulling down those walls of metal and chains or locking their glass doors to block my path. I apologized as I hurried through, desperate to make my way before it was officially too late, feeling it more difficult to breathe as panic set in.

I stopped when I saw him emerge from an alley I'd not noticed and blinked when he approached me. I don't remember speaking, though I wanted him to know I was lost, confused and afraid. He reached for me and pulled me to him and I rested my head on his shoulder, clinging to him as tightly as I could. I eventually loosened my grip but remained in his embrace, feeling my mind quiet as I realized I was comfortable and happy and safe.

The memory of him dissipated as I woke and climbed out of bed and I struggled to bring him back into focus while brushing my teeth. He was wearing a t-shirt and jeans, I recalled as I walked Chienne, and he understood what I needed and offered it without question. I smiled wistfully before heading toward home and getting ready for work.

The job distracts me and I consider it a blessing. I work and worry, argue and annoy, and it takes precious time and energy. I laugh with people I sincerely enjoy and think about topics I find both fascinating and relevant.

And I forget, during the day, that I am - on a personal level - lost and confused and afraid in this stunning world in which we live. I do have this lingering fear that time is limited - that if I don't find my way soon, it won't be found. And though I know it sounds terribly melodramatic, I'll forgive myself since my brain only focuses on that part while I sleep. And it finds - somehow - a way to find some sense of peace before I wake.

Sunday, August 08, 2010


We returned home from shopping to find that Chienne had eaten the rest of the oatmeal raisin bars Mom made for me.

Because Chienne was unusually subdued after being scolded (I love oatmeal raisin bars!), I brought Little One's cat up from downstairs without fear of a canine/feline battle.

Having deposited Cat in Little One's room, I flopped back on the couch while Mom rested with Smallest One, trying to coax her into a nap.

Dad, remembering he'd read that raisins caused kidney failure in dogs, reached for his laptop to look up said forwarded email.

Cursing when he realized the wireless wasn't working, he decided to go into Little One's room - where the router is kept - to fiddle with wires.

Unknown to Dad, Little One had placed a table behind her door to prevent the accidental escape of Cat.

Upon knocking over said table, the normal placid Cat panicked and scratched Little One across the belly.

The subsequent sobbing howls brought Mom from Smallest One's room in an attempt to comfort her elder granddaughter.

After injury examination and Neosporin application, we had settled in the living room again to argue over whose fault it was - perhaps mine because I put the cat in there, perhaps Dad's because he barged in without more care.

Mid-argument, I scampered down the hall, hurrying toward Smallest One as she cried. I found her on the floor, asked her if she'd fallen out of bed and scooped her up when I couldn't get anything from her muffled explanation.

I rocked her for a moment before she asked for Grandma and I tucked them in to watch SpongeBob before coming back to the living room.

I returned to the living room with a bottle of water I was beginning to wish were alcoholic and sighed, glancing across the room to watch Chienne sleeping peacefully - no raisin-induced poisoning or family-driven panic in her little doggie world.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Paddle wheel

"No," I replied to the young cutie behind the counter as he served my nieces lemonade. "But the last time I was on a riverboat was when I was their ages or so. Grandpa used to take me on the Juliabelle." He grinned while I remembered rabbits' feet and holding hands while we watched the bright red wheel push us through the muddy water.

I held hands again, this time with the Ones, as Little wrinkled her nose over getting splashed and Smallest charmed everyone in sight with her imitations of the wheel. They're adorable and I considered myself the lucky one when I included in chasing children, cuddles and conversation with the girls while my parents sat in rocking chairs on an upper deck and enjoyed our midday cruise.

We began to struggle near the end of the outing. Smallest One became increasingly difficult as her nap time came and went, going where she wasn't allowed, pushing me away as I tried to keep her safe and sound.

"Smallest. One." I warned at one point, using my firmest voice and most serious expressions.

"Aunt. Katie." She mimicked me perfectly, down to the emphasis on each word and narrowed eyes, making me choke back laughter before I tugged her out of the restricted area. Again.

Mom joined us later, allowed me to cuddle with Little as she battled Smallest. They bickered and I smoothed Little One's hair back from her face, turning to watch as Mom held up one finger and said, "one..."

The giggle escaped, though I did turn my head when Smallest One put a hand on her hip and held two fingers up on the other one. "Two," she said simply.

I feel for Little One, even as it annoys me when she pouts, for I released her hand countless times to chase after Smallest One. She's always getting dumped off of laps as we leap up to catch a falling toddler or asked to wait while we deal with another daring feat.

She did have her grandparents to herself when I went to nap with Smallest One. As her sister continued to sleep, Little One set off with her mother to buy school clothes and check the lists on the door of her building to see which Kindergarten teacher she would have.

I was thinking on my drive home, a not unpleasant but lengthy musing over what I want from the rest of my life. Having children has drifted down on the list and I think the Ones are a big part of that. They're wonderful - impossibly adorable, smart, funny, creative and charming. And it terrifies me that they'll face pain and fear as they continue to grow - personal challenges, academic failures, not making the cheerleading squad. So perhaps having a family is something I'll continue to do from being a half-step removed.

And I'm content with that, actually. Surprisingly so.

I'm less happy with other trends, but I have ideas around those too. Perhaps I'll use the quiet of this weekend to try to write an achingly personal post about relationships. One can always hope, yes?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


Returning from a dinner with customers, I sighed with contented exhaustion and walked toward my car. The setting sun reflected off the layer of clouds overhead, turning parts of the purple puffs orange. I stopped at the light, wishing I could rest my head on the steering wheel and just stare at the sky.

I ended up in a long line at the single stop sign that separates my home from my work, sleepily applying my brakes and settling in to wait my turn. The line moved excruciatingly slowly and I began to wonder why as I was unable to see the actual stop sign, located as it was at the bottom of the other side of the hill before me. So I began to sing.

"The bear went over the mountain,
the bear went over the mountain,
the bear went over the mountain
to see what he could see.
He saw another mountain,
he saw another mountain,
he saw another mountain
so what do you think he did?
The bear went over the mountain..."
It turns out those are the wrong lyrics, but that's how I roll. I continued to sing, perking up as I repeated the same words over and over and over again, creeping forward as I watched the people in front of me begin to turn around.

I frowned as I tried to figure it out, wondering if the road ahead was closed and considering turning around myself. I tried to decide if the pace of forward motion paired exactly with where we'd go only if there were cars getting out of line. I was rather consumed with the bear song I continued to sing though, so I decided I'd wait in line until I got to the top of the hill.

You know, to see what I could see.

I made my way home without further difficulty, realizing the construction on the parallel path was diverting traffic to my typical route and slowing my progress. I was largely calm about the whole thing which surprised me a bit, not being a fan of delays in general.

I realized I'm happy.

I like my life of late - I have enough money and time to enjoy it. I'm looking forward to going home this weekend - spending time with the elder and younger generations in my family. I finished off a ton of items that had long lingered on my list of things to do at work. I had lunch with people I enjoyed again today and slept surprisingly well this week. There are pretty flowers and chances to talk to men with whom I'm mildly infatuated. I had a chance to flirt on the phone with a colleague this morning and finished the day browsing hotels in Japan and Korea for later this year.

There's nothing overly exciting - just going over the standard mountains - but it seems the peaks are a bit higher and the valleys less low. I'm planning to enjoy it while it lasts.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


"Here," Sibling said, placing a small book between us where we sat at the back of the conference room. I raised an eyebrow and used the tip of my finger to tilt the text toward me.

"Maybe I like sweating the small stuff," I told her, picking it up nonetheless and selecting a chapter to read. I paused when I finished the few pages on the random topic, thinking for a moment before neatly placing the book back where she'd put it.

"I think the guy is on something," I decided, "or way more zen than I am. Still, he has a point." I had, for example, read the 'accept the 80/20 rule' section and pondered it while (mostly) paying attention to the meeting that soon started. The chapter basically said that 80% of the work would be done by 20% of the people and that some of that 20% would be bitter over it.

I am, in my current state, doing a hell of a lot of work and understand that's a choice I've made. I'm building my career and doing something I love so being constantly attached to my Blackberry and taking conference calls before 7AM and after 11PM strikes me, for now, as being worthwhile. So while I'm not actively bitter, I am easily annoyed when colleagues aren't as responsive as I am - as quick or thorough or somehow good. But, Richard Carlson, Ph.D., states that others have different working styles and priorities, stresses and skills.

True story, I decided easily, knowing on some superficial level that colleagues have spouses and children, interests and needs. One in particular made me pause when she said her cat died - I stopped to give her a cuddle and sympathetic murmur, then asked her if she could get to that email I'd sent two days ago. She did, and I reminded myself to take her to lunch - find out what's going on and if I could help. It's been weeks and I've ignored the hints that she's struggling and feeling that I need to stop and make time for her. Today, uninterested in my work and seriously coming home for a nap, I instead walked over to her cubicle and invited her out.

We chatted about work - promotions and new hires and the flurry of movement that was happening between vacations for our bosses. I talked about what she wanted to do next, knowing she was smart and skilled, but seeing her as a more maternal, loving presence than anything else.

"So," I said cheerfully as our salads were delivered and I poked eagerly at the avocado slices, "how's your daughter?"

My face fell as she began to talk and I watched with sympathetic horror as she described a series of catastrophic events in her family. It is rare when I can think of no advice - no story to tell or insight to offer. But I sat and listened, head cocked and eyes steady on the ones that blinked back tears across the table.

I said a prayer for her and her family as I drove us back to campus. I included a brief thought of gratitude for giving me the time and multiple cues to reach out to her. To remember that, while life other than work for me consists of books to read, naps to take and Big Bang Theory DVDs to watch, it can often include sick parents, suicidal teenagers, abusive relationships, new romances, consuming hobbies and all other sorts of meaningful distractions.

So while I may rub my hands together gleefully over how my retirement fund did in the first half of 2010 and plan what to do with my latest bonus (pay off credit cards), and start to plan my next trip to Japan, I'm remembering it is rather small stuff. I think I'll pick up flowers for my friend before work tomorrow. And I'm going home this weekend to visit my family and will go so far as to leave the Blackberry alone. At least for small stretches of time.