Wednesday, May 31, 2006

More adventures at work

Today at work, I hit another time warp thing where the day seemed to slow to a crawl and I was supremely bored. SO...I pulled out my cell phone and did a little shotgun text messaging. I sent out a message that read something like the following, " I'm bored. Send me a message!" to about five different people. I got several replies and it did a great deal to brighten up my day. So thankyou, you folks who know who you are. ( Wesley, are you still on some sort of vacation?) And then Brad told me later that some people have to PAY for text messages. And I felt bad. I am deeply sorry. So THANKYOU EVEN MORE if you had to pay extra to send me a message.

It fills my heart with joy when I hear the little pling-pling noise that the cell phone makes when you get a text message. If anyone wants to send me random text messages during the day, and overflow my heart with happiness, you are more than welcome. If you don't have it, you can email me ( or Brad, since I don't have my email address posted on the blog) to get my cell number.

On a different note, I have been having some interesting conversations with people at work concerning spiritual things. I brought in a copy of "Mere Christianity" to loan to a guy who seems to be aaaaalmost on the right track. He talks about how being in communion with the Holy Spirit is the only way to live and he reads his Bible and tries to be like Jesus every day...but he thinks that Jesus is simply the most "enlightened" person ever and that there is really no such thing as evil. Okaaaaay...So like I said, we've had some interesting discussions. Me! The person who hates debating! I've had discussions!

It's easy to get discouraged when people seem so mixed up in their thinking but I have to remember that nobody is so confused that they are beyond God's ability to reach them.

This guy gets along really well with the girl sitting next to him but when she is there, he doesn't talk much about spiritual things because, as he said to me the other day, "She's not open minded, like you are." Huh. I never thought anyone would call ME open minded. I wonder if I should be insulted. :) Hee hee hee. ( You know, the whole gleeful aspect of a hee hee hee is totally negated when you just put a plain old period after it. To be truly "hee-hee-hee"ing, one must put an exclamation point or "..." afterwards. And by the way- what is the technical term for "..." Anybody know? Andrea?)

It's so hard to know how to say, "You're wrong" in a nice way, especially with my non-confrontational personality. But the Holy Spirit really has been helping me. I'm not just saying that because it sounds pious and nice; He has given me an amazing ability to relax and say stuff that I normally wouldn't think of on the spot- to be kind and yet not a dish-rag. It's incredible how years of being steeped in the Bible suddenly pays off in unexpected ways. But anyway- this guy says he wants to read the whole thing ( "Mere Christianity") tonight.

And then there's a girl who's very definitely a Christian and she and I had a really great talk today. It's so refreshingly odd ( or oddly refreshing?) to have an open conversation in an office and be talking about the Holy Spirit, prayer, faith, and Jesus' return. It boggles my stiff Yankee mind.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Yeah- what she said...

I'm guessing I don't have to write anything anymore...because either Liane or Derrick will do it for me. (Derrick about the wedding, and Liane about Mother's Day and Karena's birthday. ) And I am grateful. I'm not TRYING to be lazy...I'm just conserving energy and pointing you to someone else's blog because they're saying whatever it is that needs to be said better than me. I don't even know if that last sentence makes any sense but I'm so tired that I don't even care. It must be the humidity because everyone in the office today, myself included, was in some sort of hazy stupor and could barely peck away at the keyboard without falling into a snooze.

ANYWAY- Happy Birthday to Karena, the sister who taught me, among many other things, how to tie my shoes! She was a good teacher because I can still remember how. I miss you and love you, KK!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Mmmmm - good movie.

Well, we're home again after our little jaunt to Florida. There is really no point in recounting anything because you can visit Derrick's blog and read all about the wedding and see pictures so I see NO point in being redundant. Thanks, DJ, for doing my work for me. And there's also no point in putting up one of those little links to go over to Knightly Ruminations...because, come on, you ALL KNOW how to get there. Follow the yellow brick road.

No, this post is not about Jeff and Fritha and the lovely time we had at their wedding and how we wish them all possible happiness, and how much fun it was to see everyone from our old world. It's about something Totally Different.

It's about "The Village." (Cue creepy music.)

Last night we watched M. Night Shymalan's, "The Village." We went into it not expecting much beyond a few goosebumps b/c the reviews were less than stellar for this 2004 movie. Oh my word. We were completely surprised by its goodness. And by goodness, I mean: scariness, beauty, suspensefulness, stunning plot twists, and just brilliance in general.

It was so good I wanted to eat it. That is usually an accolade I reserve for music, but it applied here as well. Beautiful costumes; gorgeous sets; great actors; perfect music; well-crafted, clean story...Oh, MAN! You have to see it if you can stomach the scariness. It's not a horror movie- it's a very suspenseful, thought provoking story. Not for the very young or the faint of heart, though.

There were moments when I practically watched through my fingers I was so scared, and afterwards when I went downstairs to make sure the doors were locked and lights turned out, I had to RUN UPSTAIRS afterward, two steps at a time, because I was creeped out by the darkness. But I got over it...and I felt I could understand Anne Shirley when she and Diana Barry are walking through the Haunted Forest and Diana asks, " Aren't you scared?" and Anne replies with relish, "Deliciously scared!"

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

This is one of my favorite things...

A few days before my birthday, Brad took me to a local antique extravaganzaaaa and we wandered around for a happy hour or so.

( Melissa and Lisa, this was the same place we went to when you guys were here but it was a whole different experience with Brad. He went at about three times the pace we did!)

The point was for me to pick out something for a birthday present. We had a lot of fun looking at interesting things but nothing really jumped out at me. ( That would have been really scary. Jumping antiques!) Just before we left, I spotted these ceramic hands. I was enchanted with them. They can be fastened to the wall, but I haven't decided on the right place for them yet, so for now they are on the kitchen table. I discarded the orginal fake greenery that they were holding, and put in a couple roses from our front garden instead.

So here is one of my favorite birthday presents of 2006:

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Warning: Much Venting Ahead

Morale in the office is at an all time low. People are getting impatient with the reigning confusion and tedium of our assignments. A lot of folks are sitting around talking a LOT - on cell phones or just to coworkers in the office- and some even have these little portable DVD players and are WATCHING MOVIES on them as they "work." I'm thinking, How can you be really working and watching a movie at the same time? But nobody seems to be saying anything to them about it. Whatever. It's one thing to listen to music on your headphones but...a movie? That just seems counterproductive to me.

I feel kind of like I'm in the parable of the 11th hour. Rrrr. Not a perfect analogy, I know. Pecking away at a computer in an air-conditioned office is hardly equivalent to manual labor in a sweltering vineyard and there are no temps showing up at 4:00 and getting paid a day's wages. I just try to tell myself that honesty and hard work will be rewarded, if not in this life, then in the next, and as long as I get my little denarius at the end of the week, I should be content. But not before I tell you about the rest of the outrages I suffered today.

This one ultra loud girl has moved herself into our office...I don't know why but she just plunked herself down the other day and she won't leave. She is the Queen of Talk. And not exactly wholesome conversation either. I can hardly hear myself think with her incessant racket. Even with my headphones on sometimes I can't drown her out. The worst was when she was carrying on a conversation ON HER NEXTEL PHONE in the know- those two way phones that beep. Yeah, THOSE. It's bad enough to hear one side of the conversation...Boy, I'm thinking about how at my last job, the thing that annoyed me the most about my coworkers was when they brought their dogs to work. Them were the days. The Good Old Days. I still don't get it- dogs at work- but it seems gnat-like in comparison to today's irritations. My melancholy side whispers, I suppose THESE are the good old days too...compared to some future job where there lurks something unimaginably worse than the Q o' T on her evil Nextel.

Oh, speaking of cell phones...Somebody's rang today in our office and it was just a generic little cellphone song ring...and the women in the office started saying, " Why don't you buy/download a ring?" and the guy was like, " It's too expensive." And the women, led loudly by the Queen of Talk, were saying, " Oh, it's only three or four dollars...!" And I was thinking, SO? If you don't need it and don't care about it, then three or four dollars IS too expensive. I wouldn't pay half that much for something I didn't want! It's a cell phone ring, for Pete's sake; it doesn't define who I am. In fact, I think it's super annoying when somebody has some loud rap song as their ring. What is THAT all about? It has scared me out of my skin more than once.

I didn't feel like getting into a debate with them though...I had already had one earlier - about President Bush. Ugh. The whole office was staring at me. I hate debating. I stink at it and it makes me HUGELY uncomfortable. You'd never guess that I am the granddaughter of a prizewinning national debater from Bates College. Arguments are anathema to me. As I see it, there is no point in getting into a war argument. Their minds are made up and so is mine and nothing they can say will change it. And I don't feel a tremendous responsibility to change their minds. If they're brainwashed, they're going to need a greater power than me to transform their thinking. I know what I know but I am not a great persuader and I hate being put on the spot. I am annoyed that I found myself on the defensive and that they seemed to think me an uneducated simpleton, swallowing events unquestioningly. After babbling incoherently, I told them that the bottom line was, if they were getting their information from the mainstream media, they were all off base because everybody knows that the media is biased. Somehow they actually seemed appeased by that. Weird. What a stupid argument, Claire. It's the truth but it shouldn't have satisfied them, considering their supposed position. But then they started chasing another rabbit trail about how yes, the media is stupid, especially on security issues...( i.e. they are broadcasting our plans and positions, alerting the enemy etc) I should have been pumped at my semi-success, but I was just relieved that I was out of the hot seat.

On my little break this morning I went into the upstairs part of the office. On my way, I saw my supervisor- the only other white person working on our project- taking off in his car. I thought that was weird. I came back down a couple minutes later and they told me that he had just been fired. I thought they were joking but then I remembered seeing him leave and I was like, OH my WORD. This place is the drama mill, I am telling you.

I was forced to take an hour lunch today because my new supervisors said they wanted the office empty for inventory. I was a bit steamed to find upon my return that some people had come back after only a half hour lunch and found the place empty and so they started working again. Oh well. I feared that the traffic would be drastically worse upon my exodus at 4:30 but ironically it was actually lighter. A BLESSING IN THE MIDST OF A DAY OF CARNAGE. Okay- not carnage, but...that is the only word that really quenches my need for hyperbole right now.

There have been some rumors that the company may keep on a few temps at the end of this assignment and I can't make up my mind as to whether I would say yes if the job was offered to me.

Sorry for all the raging in this post. I know you won't believe it but I keep reminding myself to be thankful for this job. In spite of all the negativity today, I must reiterate that I am grateful for a chance, however fleeting and weird, to earn some money, and brush up on my Excel skills. I know this is a bizarre way of expressing that gratitude...but I just had to vent. Sigh. Now I feel MUCH better. Three days til Florida!

I ran this post by Brad before I published and he said he had just read this morning in Colossians where it says to be abundantly thankful. Okay. I am abundantly thankful. No, really! I am! Just letting you know- this was my day.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Nothing Exciting

I wish I had a clever, enlightening post to share with you, but I don't. After becoming one of the cogs of industry this last week, my creative juices are running low. But I thought I would at least give an update to tell you all that I'm alive and after a delightfully restful Shabbat, I will live to work another week. Or at least, four days. Brad and I are departing after work on Thursday for sunny Florida, to attend the nuptuals of Feff and Jritha. Don't you like that word- nuptuals? It sounds like it should be a flower.

After being used to a half hour commute on rural New Hampshire back roads, the transition to metro-Atlanta traffic has been somewhat jarring. However, I'm sort of learning the traffic patterns and what to expect. Just because you are slowed to a crawl on the highway a few times doesn't mean you're going to be late.

I feel like a bit of an outsider in the office- like everyone belongs to a club that I can never join. But that's okay, I guess. I'm enjoying getting to know the people in my office.

After all the jabs I've given Brad about putting on a southern accent at the store, I found myself saying, "MMMMMM-hmm..." just like a southerner the other day. Wow. One week after immersion and the inflection flickers into life. I don't think I ever noticed the Southern "Mmmm-hmmm" before. The Northern version is pronounced with equal emphasis on the syllables, if not, perhaps a little more stress on the end, maybe even going up a little...But the Southern version almost leaves off the hmmm at the end, so strong and long is the MMMMM at the beginning.

So, there's the trivia of my life right now. And thanks for all the birthday greetings last weekend, everyone.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!

While it's not written from my perspective ( I don't have children yet) I just read about the best Mother's Day tribute I've ever read. And it was written for my own mother. So I'm going to just say "Me too! I get the Best Mother Award for my mother too!"

Friday, May 12, 2006

Video: Carpetbaggers

More foolishness.

This is in the Quicktime MOV format. Let me know if you have any problems.

Claire's birthday starts in a few minutes . Happy birthday, Claire. You're my favorite.

Which One of These Things Does Not Belong?

Wednesday evening I got a call from my dear temp agency, offering me a job that started today. I said yes. So today was the first day I have worked in EIGHT months. Wow. The shift was from 7:00 to 4:00. I got there at 6:30, having left myself plenty of time because I didn't know what the traffic would be like. I can't remember the last time I got up at 5:08. Well, we didn't even start working until about 8:00 or 8:30 because not everyone was there and the supervisor didn't want to explain himself twenty different times. It's a data entry position, which is fairly boring, but that's fine with me because I wanted something that would be low stress...and most of the people in the room with me were listening to music on headphones. So that's going to be me come Monday. I'm bringing the ipod in and the tunes will be flowing.

Well, the weirdest thing about the job is, I am very much the minority. In fact, I was the only white person in the room. Except for a couple higher up muckety muck men that flitted around periodically, I was the only white person I saw ALL DAY. I don't think I have ever been so acutely aware of my pigmentation...especially when the gaggle of women that I hung out with for the first hour were telling horror stories about temp agencies...One woman was telling about a friend of hers that was sent by a temp agency to a certain address, and when she got there, it was a private home. She was horrified and felt very unsafe. I guess it was in a bad part of town, there was a dog, and a baby with a stinky diaper, and these two white people, who could have been plotting to kill her for all she knew! The room recoiled in horror. I suddenly felt like a very big, visible, white fly on the wall. ( I guess the point she was making was that the temp agency was irresponsible b/c they never checked out where they were sending her...) I wanted to let out a small whimper from my conspicuously Caucasian lips, " I'm nice!"

I smiled the whole time and pushed on my cuticles like mad.

Let me hasten to say that everyone I work with seems very nice and they were very helpful and friendly...

I can't help but think about my brief two month stint at the Bank of New Hampshire Operations Center in Keene. They were very ergonomically correct there and had someone come around and adjust your office chair so that it wasn't too high or too low. And twice a day exercise or stretching was mandated to keep everyone healthy, aligned, and limber. This place is like a dungeon in comparison. We sit on metal folding chairs. For eight hours. The supervisor did tell us to take two fifteen minute breaks to get up and walk around and get some fresh air. I briefly entertained the idea of leading group stretches like at the bank...except I'm not going to get up on a filing cabinet to do it. There is no room for that anyway. At the very least, I think I will bring a pillow for my poor posterior.

The lady at the temp agency said this was a two week assignment. The supervisor at the job site this morning said, " It'll be longer than that..." I think this is a good thing.

I heard a unique word today, one that I think has never before been used in earth's history. "Pressuresome." As in, " That job was a pressuresome situation." I immediately flagged it in my mind as a blogworthy word and stifled the urge to laugh aloud.

I visited Brad at his job on my way home. I had told him about the culture jiggle that I encountered. ( It wasn't really striking enough to be true culture shock, but it was sure something. Definitely not inertia, anyway.) I had been there a while, wandering around the store and talking with his coworkers. Brad suddenly turned to a co-worker of his, who happens to be black, and said, " So, did Claire tell you about her culture shock today?" I looked at Brad in amazement, and said, " Brad!" He told this guy that I was the only white person at work. ( This guys' wife works at my temp agency...small world, huh?) Apparently, he and his coworker have had some racial dialogues- in the positive sense of the term- and this guy is pretty laid back about stuff like that...But not having been a part of these positive dialogues, I felt distinctly weird. I don't have a lot of experience with that kind of thing. I don't like talking about differences, I guess. (Don't get me wrong- I like this coworker. I'm not racist. I just don't know how to deal with racial tensions when they arise...being from New Hampshire where those issues are practically non-existant because there are no almost no minorities there!) And then his coworker said, " Oh, great! So you could walk in and kind of feel like you owned the place..." and I was almost totally bowled over with awkwardness because that is the kind of thing an extremely unPC, joking white person would say...and I would just roll my eyes and be like, " whatever"...but I did not know how to handle it coming from a black man. If I had any superpowers, I think I would have pulled a Dathan and Abiram. ( As in, having the earth swallow me up...)

Perhaps my multicultural deficiency will be somewhat remedied in the next few weeks.

Monday, May 08, 2006


I was listening to the local Christian radio station last week and the host announced that they were going to hold a little contest. The fifth caller to the radio station would win a book by Ravi Zacharias. Being a fan of this particular apologist, I called the radio station and encountered an answering machine where I was asked to leave my name, number and address. Okay. So I did. And I forgot about it.

I got a phonecall a couple days ago. It was a strangely familiar, smooth-n-smarmy voice saying I had won Ravi Zacharias's book.


It came in the mail today. It's actually an autobiography, " Walking East to West." I adore autobiographies. I am eagerly looking forward to delving into its pages.

A curious bit o' trivia: the book is signed. It says, "With appreciation, Ravi." Wow. Ravi Zacharias appreciates ME!

Yes, I will deign to accept your congratulations.

I like winning things.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Here Be Whining

At least, that's what Brad thought was a good title for this post after I read it to him. I say, it's justified whining.

A couple weeks ago, our next door neighbor to the left of us pointed out that the juniper bush that sits on the property line was becoming infested with vicious honeysuckle vines on our side of the bush. She was worrying that it would affect the health of the bush...and would we please do something about it.

So we threw ourselves into a violent tug of war with nature twice in the last two weeks. It was a huge job and very difficult. Honeysuckle! Who knew that it could be such an insidious enemy? It sounds so harmless and charming...a word that should be associated with sunny mornings and cozy cottages. But it had grown into a mass of tangled, deeply entrenched vines and until the neighbor pointed it out, I actually thought that it was how it was supposed to look- it looked so established. I carted several wheelbarrow loads full of vines down to the garage and stuffed the trash can full- both times we did this. Brad borrowed a massive, two-handed machete from Nate and used it to hack away at the evil growth. We also tried to dig up some of the stuff by the roots so it wouldn't grow back.

My opinion was that we should just torch the stupid bush and be done with it. It was not worth the gwunting and stwuggling.

Last Friday I discovered some weird looking bug bites that had sprung up on my arm. I attributed them to some brutish gnats that I remember attacking me at a yard sale that day. The bug bites blossomed to a frightening size and I began to look like a victim of an atomic disaster.

It suddenly dawned on us a couple days ago that these were not bug bites and realized that I was suffering from an allergic reaction. I'm still not sure whether it's poison ivy (I've never had it before) or simply honey suckle. Or maybe we're the first victims of a terrorist attack. Anyway...much suffering has ensued. And now Brad has it too, poor fellow.

The urge to scratch cannot be ignored. This situation reminds me of the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon when Calvin and his family are on a road trip and Calvin needs to answer the call of nature...and as they look for a rest-stop all he can think of is Noah's Ark, Hoover Dam, and Niagara Falls...All I can think about is sandpaper, steel wool, and claws...

I have woken myself up the last couple nights itching my arms and legs like crazy. In fact, last night I realized in the wee hours of the morning, as I convulsively scratched my arms, that even if I knew that scratching myself would kill me, I would still do it....because I just HAD TO. It was a horrifying realization: if that was the choice, I would plunge down the road towards death without a moment's hesitation. I suddenly felt like I could relate to those with self destructive addictions.

I also felt a strange kinship with poor Eustace Scrubb-turned-dragon in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. As I slathered on a mixture of calamine lotion and aloe vera, at 1:30 this morning, I felt like I was preparing myself for a strange decoupage project. I wished with all my heart that Aslan would come along and tear off my skin.

The latest thing we've tried is a mixture of three parts baking soda and one part water. We slathered it on our poor welted skin this morning. I look like a science experiment gone bad. Sigh. What a mess. And the calamine lotion makes me look like a wall of sheetrock with random spots of joint compound. Our skin is like hideous living Braille.

I want to hide myself upstairs til it's all gone.

You will no doubt laugh when I tell you that after all this, there was some question as to whether we should do a video blog about this... I think if we did a video blog, no one would ever come back to this blog again. I haven't really had much writing exercise recently anyway...

Friday, May 05, 2006

Drive By Blessing

The other day I was waiting at a stop sign and experienced a dramatically huge sneeze. The driver of a van coming towards me mouthed, " Bless you!" at me. Or maybe he shouted. I don't know. Either way, I thought it was pretty funny.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Video: Ronald Reagan Never Smelled So Good

We hung out with Nate and Penny on Saturday. Trees. Caterpillars. Roses. Ice Cream. Hurray.