Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Crazy for Christmas

Countdown to Christmas 25 days

I have always been crazy for Christmas. And by crazy, I mean completely over the top with ideas, fantasies, expectations and decorations. Of those things, decorations is really the only one I had control over. So decorations at my house have always been out of control.

As the youngest child I was the driving force behind getting our house decorated. I would drag out all the boxes I could from upstairs to downstairs. If the box was too big I would take the items out individually and carry them down the stairs on their own. No one helped me. I'm not certain if they didn't help because they didn't want to, or if they didn't help so they could just stay the hell out of my way.

Everything had it's own place: Felty Santa with the shiny boot that always fell off, he goes in the nook above the furnace vent; Music box on the shelf underneath Santa; Plastic light up Santa head, that goes in the front window of the dining room; light up plastic bells go in the side window of the dining room; ceramic Santa sleigh that belonged to my great-grandmother and the lead dear was missing half of front leg, that goes in my room!

My mother was no help. She fed my addiction. When I was 8 she came up with an idea to buy a special ornament for each family member. The ornament would be dated with your name on it and when you moved out you would have an entire tree decor ready for your new home. I took this to heart and immediately chose my theme for the rest of my life, Snoopy and Peanuts. Two years later I abandoned that theme and went for the one that actually stuck, the most expensive ornament in the store.

Not much has changed since I was 8. I still gravitate to the most expensive ornament in the store, I still get all the boxes out by myself (some people are so uncooperative with hauling Christmas decor out on November 1st) and I still pretty much decorate the house all by myself and I don't know if it's because no one wants to help me or if they just want to stay the hell out of my way. Okay, I lied, I know for a fact they just want to stay the hell out of my way.

I've turned my obsession into a a career at one point working for Nordstrom installing Christmas decor, and I've also helped decorate Richard Simmons's house for Christmas.
My theory has always been, it's not done until its OVERDONE. You'd think that would be okay, but come the week after Christmas, I'm exhausted, the house is over decorated, and no one wants to take down all that stuff and put it away.

Last year Lyle bribed me with a trip to Paris in December if I would decorate less. I agreed to doing just a tree. Right before Christmas our very special puppy, Lola, passed away. I couldn't imagine decorating like usual. Getting the tree up was a chore. For the first time in my life, I was not Christmas crazy.
On the plane ride to Paris I was reading a book called "Tinsel" by Hank Stuever. The book is all about the crazy lengths people go through in a Texas town to decorate and celebrate Christmas. From one year during the boom times, followed by one year during a much leaner time. Then we were in Paris and though the retail stores did amazing window displays, the way the Parisians seem to celebrate Christmas is much more understated than I do.

I went in to one of the biggest retailers in Paris and found their Christmas decoration selling area. I was keen to buy my fantastical Paris 2010 ornament. I came out of the shop empty handed. "Nothing good?" Lyle asked. I have more individual unique ornaments at home, than they have in total stock of the most boring ornaments repeated in there, I was so sad.

And that's when it began to dawn on me. My way of celebrating and decorating for Christmas is unique. Unique to where I live. I have loads of storage space. All that Christmas decor has to live somewhere when it is not on display (33 plastic totes in the basement, a king size bed space of greenery in the garage). Who has that kind of space in Paris? In Manhattan? Who has that much time and money to invest in all this stuff?
Don't get me wrong. I am still crazy for Christmas. But I am trying to bring my level down to just crazy and no longer INSANE.

Last year, tear down was easy, strip the tree and you're done. I liked that. This year I have a lot going on in my world and I am attempting to scale down the crazy once again. We will get a tree this weekend, light it, decorate it like there is no tomorrow, then step back and take stock. A couple of additional items on the mantel, the dining room table... I think I will be done.

Of course, that being said, you just KNOW that ONE tree we do get is going to be OVER THE TOP.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Maurice Sendak, The Nutcracker

Countdown to Christmas 26 days

If you live anywhere near Seattle in December, I encourage you to go and see the Pacific Northwest Ballet's production of The Nutcracker, with sets by Maurice Sendak. I love this production!

To be fair, I love the music of the Nutcracker and would gladly go see any production. But this production, with these sets and costumes, is cemented in my mind and the perfect combination of childlike whimsy that brings the music to life.

There is a interesting article on how Maurice Sendak became involved in this project. Here is an excerpt:
Sendak's first professional encounter with Nutcracker came when he was approached by the Pacific Northwest Ballet to re-create the original E.T.A. Hoffmann story for their 1983 stage production.

At first Sendak balked, wanting to avoid what he considered a predictable project. Through conversations with Northwest Pacific Ballet Artistic Director Kent Stowell, Sendak became inspired to overcome his initial perceptions of the work as the "most bland and banal of ballets" and take a "leap into the unknown."

During his research, he discovered that the version familiar to most modern audiences, "is smoothed out, bland, and utterly devoid not only of difficulties but of the weird, dark qualities that make it something of a masterpiece," Sendak writes in the introduction to Nutcracker.

Monday, November 28, 2011

All I Want For Christmas Is You

Countdown to Christmas 27 days

As much as I love those classic holiday memories of listening to LP records with their pop, hiss, scratch from overplay while Julie Andrews sings O Little Town of Bethlehem, I have plenty of love for pop Christmas music. Mariah Carey singing "All I Want For Christmas Is You" is high, WAY HIGH, on my list of pop Christmas tunes.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

TV movie: The Homecoming - A Christmas Story, 1971

Countdown to Christmas 28 days

Before it was a TV series, it was TV movie of the week.

The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, 1971

The Walton family is about to celebrate another Christmas. It's the '30s and it's the Depression. Father John Walton promised to be home but seems to be late. When John hasn't showed for hours, Ma sends John-Boy out to find him. Will John ever get home to celebrate Christmas with his family?

I loved Patricia Neal as the Mother of the Walton clan. My favorite scene is when John-Boy brings home two bottles from the Baldwin sisters and his mother, assuming it was bootleg hooch, demands he pour it out in the snow. This is another TV movie my sister and I lived for and once again, it is difficult to find on broadcast television.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Tannenbaum

Countdown to Christmas 29 days

(This is our tree from 2008)


There is nothing that says Christmas to me as much as The Tree. My history of tree worship is well documented (previous blog entry) and I have worked hard to move beyond that. I have come to realize that I put so many lights and ornaments on whatever tree we get, that no matter what it will be perfect. I even have special ornaments that are larger to fill any space that has a gap.

Decide for yourself, but for me, it has to be a live tree. The smell of the tree, the lights of the tree, the space it takes up in our living room... I can't get the tree in this house fast enough. Today will be our tree hunting day.

Once the tree has been selected, paid for, and delivered to the house, I will put on my special tree decorating playlist and begin the lighting. The lighting will take one entire day. Okay, it just takes 4 hours (or so) but at the end of that 4 hours (or so) I will be done in. Ornaments will be added later.

Here is my Christmas Tree playlist:
We Need A Little Christmas - Angela Landsbury
All I Want For Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey
O Christmas Tree - Aretha Franklin
Holly Leaves & Christmas Trees - Elvis Presley
The Tree - Peggy Lee
Jingle Bells - Ella Fitzgerald
One Little Christmas Tree - Stevie Wonder
It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas - Dionne Warwick
O Christmas Tree (O Tannenbaum) - The Chipmucks
Rockin around the Christmas tree - Brenda Lee
'Round And 'Round The Christmas Tree - Bing Crosby
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Darlene Love
Kissin' By The Mistletoe - Aretha Franklin
O Tannenbaum - Vince Guaraldi Trio
My Christmas Tree - Home Alone Soundtrack
(Everybody's Waitin' For) The Man With The Bag - Kay Starr
Christmas Trees And Holly Leaves - Holly Cole
Christmas Tree (Greensleeves) - The Chipmucks
I Want A Hippopotamus For Xmas - Gayla Peevey (Lyle loves this song!)
Christmas Wrapping - Waitresses
The Happiest Christmas Tree - Nat King Cole

Friday, November 25, 2011

O Tannenbaum, The Vienna Boys Choir

Countdown to Christmas 30 days

I've got about 1700 "holiday" songs in my iTunes. According to the play counter, O Tannenbaum by The Vienna Boys Choir is one of the most played Christmas songs in my library. Which makes sense because I love old timey classic Christmas music from those Goodyear Tire Christmas collections, and Lyle likes boys choirs singing Christmas.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The pie makers

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"The boys are making apple pie together. "

TV movie: The Gathering, 1977

Countdown to Christmas 30 days

I thought I would attempt a little something here with the blog. I've got Christmas thought a plenty and they fill my head. So I thought I would blog for the next THIRTY days about Christmas. Hold on tight, this sled don't stop until Christmas!

The Gathering, 1977

When Adam Thornton (Ed Asner) learns he has two months to live, he decides to make peace with his family. The problem is, his family isn't exactly fond of him due to the fact that he walked out on his wife four years ago and he hasn't spoken to his youngest son since he fled to Canada to avoid the draft. When his doctor says he can't travel to reconcile with each of his children, his wife (Maureen Stapleton) suggests that they invite them all for Christmas. Will they all show up?

This movie is hard to find on broadcast TV. Probably because its total late 70's schmaltz. My sister and I used to stay up late during the Christmas season and we would always find this movie and then cry all the way through it.

Not much has changed. I watched this last night and knowing where it was headed, I started to cry during the opening credits. I can't even wear my glasses when I watch this movie as it pulls at my emotions like a well oiled machine.

I've added a clip here, but if you think you may watch this, skip it. It's THE MOMENT towards the end of the film and it will spoil all the hard work the director put in to manipulating your emotions. If you already seen it (hint, hint, my sister Debbie) make sure you have a Kleenex handy.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mr Coopers Balls

Our precious little angel, Mr Cooper is a rescue dog. He had a hard start in this life and he is very lucky to have found us (and we feel the same back at him). One thing I discovered early on was that he LOVES a squeaky ball. LOVES IT!
So I promised him that every morning he could have a brand new still squeaking squeaky ball. He has a very rigid schedule. Get up, go pee. Eat breakfast, go poop. Run inside, wait for ball. Then it's ball, ball, ball, ball, ball, ball, ball.... up and down the hallway squeaking, squeaking, squeaking, squeaking, squeaking, squeaking, squeaking... it's only good if someone can hear it. After about 3-5 minutes, the squeaker is pulled out and the ball is slobbered into submission.

Tomorrow will be the same. And the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that...

Originally I found the Kong squeaky balls at Target. They were about $1.35 per ball. Each time I'd give Cooper a ball I'd say, "Here's your $1.35, don't play in the street." But they were always running out and I was being forced to go from store to store, buying all they had and perpetuating the curse of them always being out. That's when I started to look online.

I found the BEST place to get Mr Cooper's balls: DogSupplies.Com

I am not getting anything in return for this post. I am just telling you if you have pets, this place is great. I now order 100 balls at a time and the price has come down to .83¢ a ball.

They are currently running a "Black Friday" special where you can enter BLACK in the discount code and get an additional 11% off your purchase.

I share all this because I want them to stay in business so I can continue to get Mr Cooper's balls for such a good price. After all, Mr Cooper loves his balls, what man doesn't?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Christmas Creeping

Recently there was a flurry of people posting this sign from the entryway of a Nordstrom store,
Bravo! Way to go! Good for them! Or as I said, "Poor things."

You see, in a former life, I was a Christmas Elf. Not the kind that stands next to Santa and places your screaming child on his lap. No, I was a display person at Nordstrom.

It was my dream job and I was thrilled to get it. I started in the summer and had no idea of what was coming my way in November. My first job was at a "mini-Nordstrom" in my home town. A scaled down version called Place Two, that was basically Cosmetics, Men's and Ladies Shoes, Brass Plum and Brass Rail with a few other clothing items thrown in to round out the mix. It was one floor.

My first Christmas trim began in October. Aisle Units (those things that hang over the aisle) and column wraps were built, fluffed, and then stuck out of the way to wait their turn to go up. The funny part of "out of the way" at Nordstrom nearing Christmas is there is no "out of the way". Every single stockroom and floor space is packed with back stock merchandise for the holiday sales event of the decade.

When we received our wreaths thee was nowhere for them to go, we placed some in the personal office and some in the store manager's office. No space was safe from display.

The windows get a transfer on the outside of the glass and we were allowed to close them the week of Thanksgiving. This way we could spend all day Monday and Tuesday installing our two windows, leave them covered on Wednesday and then reveal them late Wednesday night in time for Thanksgiving reveal. How lucky we were to only have two windows. Imagine having a store with 12 windows (oh yes, that was my life later).

On to the main event. On Wednesday while most people are scurrying around to get their Thanksgiving dinner supplies in order, we slept in until eleven. The visual staff arrives at the store between Noon and three. At 5:00 there is an announcement that Nordstrom wishes you all a Happy Thanksgiving and reminder that we will be closing tonight at 6 pm to prepare for the upcoming holidays, we will reopen at 8 am on Friday for your shopping convenience.

Take a deep breath. ALL HELL IS ABOUT TO BE SET LOOSE.

That 5 pm announcement is the foil ripped off the champagne bottle. Every single department in the store has not been able to show a single Christmas item yet. They are all in the back stockrooms along with signs and pressed holiday table cloths (courtesy of the display team). 5 pm means they can start cheating those totes out. 5 pm means that display can start lining items up behind the doors.

5:30 pm, the early closing announcement is repeated. Basically the cage is off the champagne bottle top. Its unpredictable now. Anyone could just loosen that cork and POP, pandemonium! But no.... the store manager is there. He is walking around reminding people that we are still open. Customers first. No totes on the floor.

The problem is, every single employee in the store is stuck there until their floor has been re-set for Friday morning. No one can leave until released by the store manager. Some will be there until 8 pm. Some until 10 pm. If you are leaving town for Thanksgiving, too bad. If people are counting on you to cook tomorrow, no prep time for you tonight. And that is the pact with the devil that you make when you beg for a job in retail for minimum wage plus commission.

6 pm, "Ladies and gentlemen, Nordstrom is now closed. Please join us on Friday when we reopen at 8 am. Thank you."

POP! That cork is OFF! Everyone breaks into a run for the stockroom doors. Rolling racks, totes, and here comes display with EVERYTHING THEY CAN MOVE ON WHEELS. I'd call it controlled chaos, but let's be honest, there is very little control.

And there we were. Two display people and an additional 10 we had recruited from friends and co-workers. We would work from noon that day until 6 am the following morning. Windows revealed, cosmetic ledges filled (that's the space inside the cosmetic islands), wreaths up, column units up, aisle units up... then down, then up... Everything is pre-prepared to look it's best but has now been sitting for anywhere from a week to a month in storage somewhere. Now it has to be fluffed again. Last minute trim items added. Everything is wired to the display so it can't fall off. Every power cord hidden in the ceiling, painted out to match, timers attached to make the lights go on and off on schedule.

The loading bay doorbell rings, "Live tree delivery!" The 12' "live" tree has been painted over with a hearty dark green (probably lead based) non-flammable paint. The certificate will need to be kept on file in the office and it will be checked by the fire department. Since the tree couldn't arrive early, it is not lit nor decorated. That will take 2 people the entire evening.

At midnight we take a break. The last of the sales floor staff left about 11 pm. Now it's just the die-hard visual crew. We wash our hands (they are FILTHY) and eat a late dinner of sandwiches. No one is allowed to order turkey for fear of it making them sleepy. Caffeinated sodas abound.

Back to work by 12:30. Everything hurts. Up the ladder, down the ladder. My boss was brilliant when she told me to bring a second pair of shoes for the night. I change and feel like I have brand new feet on, for about an hour.

As tasks are completed, we send people home. The 12' tree is finished around 1:30, that crew goes home. By about 2 am there's only 4 people left. We open the mall door and go out into the corridor and scrape off the "At Nordstrom... we won't be decking our halls until Friday..." sticker on the window. On Friday, HA! It's Wednesday... no wait, now it's Thursday, oh Happy Thanksgiving... not.

The windows are revealed, and adjusted. We stand outside the front door and look over the store as the customers will see it first thing at 8 am on Friday morning.
"Cord hanging funny on 2nd column wrap."
"2nd Aisle unit is crooked."
"I can see the timer on the wreath in customer service."

It's 4 am and we are all tired, but its fix it now or come back at 4 am on Friday morning to fix it then. Of course we opt for now. We drag the ladders up to the 2nd aisle unit to adjust it and as we touch it, the aircraft cable that is holding it into the ceiling snaps and the entire unit swings down from one end of the sky, brushes past my ear and smashes into the glass cosmetic counter BAM!

The glass case is surprisingly alright. The aisle unit is broken. Repairable, but not tonight. Now it must come completely down. We examine how the aircraft cable was able to break and discover that the installation into the ceiling may be faulty and then have a debate about whether any of the aisle units can stay up in the ceiling because aren't they all just waiting to come crashing down onto the floor? And what if they do that while the store is open? And after much discussion, as we were just about to call it a night, the ladders come out and all the aisle units come down and go into the back for storage. Later that week a construction crew would come in during the night, reinforce those aircraft cable and we would hang the units again.

We left the store at 6 am. The sun wasn't up but the sky was getting lighter. Everyone says, "You okay to drive?" and we all promise to drive very carefully. I get home, slightly wired from all the sugar and soda, but need to "sleep fast" because Thanksgiving dinner will be at 1:00. I leave a note, "DO NOT WAKE ME UP. EVER!" for my family and go to bed.

And this became my life for 8 years. I do not remember any Thanksgiving dinners. I've attended them, but have no recollection. I became a visual manager or a Nordstrom that was 3 floors, with 6 windows and a set up crew of 100. We still left there at 6 am on Thanksgiving.

Each display person has their own horror story. The 6 foot fiberglass ornaments that fell from the atrium to the first floor, the holiday carpets that were glued down with carpet tape that would never come off the marble, the window lights that short circuited and knocked the power out to the whole store...

And then there is that smug little sign "At Nordstrom... we won't be decking our halls..." and all I can see after that is "...because we don't believe our visual department deserves a Thanksgiving."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Three days after Halloween

Happy Belated Halloween!

I have in my house a giant jar of Halloween candy left over from two weeks ago. I always buy some candy in case we have trick or treaters at our house. Three years ago we had two. Two years ago we had one. Last year we had four. This year we had none.

I get it. We live in a very big city. We live in a predominately Jewish neighborhood. Parents are much more cautious about letting strangers give their children candy.

Trick or Treating was a strong tradition when I was a kid. Unlike today where I start thinking about my costume for next year starting in March, as a child, the most important thing about Halloween was not what was I going to wear, it was the free candy.

In elementary school, costume thoughts started about 5 pm on October 30.

"What are you gonna be for Halloween?"
I dunno'. What are you gonna be?
"I've got a cowboy hat left over from my birthday party. My mom says I can wear a plaid shirt with it and go as a cowboy."
Cool. I think I'm going as a gypsy.

Okay, let's be fair, I was five and I was gay. I was scared and excited to get to dress up in all the costume clothes my sister got to play with all the time. One year I went as a Gypsy, the next year an old lady (added a gray wig), another year I was a housekeeper (added an apron) and since Bewitched was popular on the TV, I once went as Aunt Clara. I was also a cowboy, a bunny, and once I think I was a frog. Since I was the youngest, I was never the first to wear any costume and didn't have any say over it (except those costumes that involved wearing high heel shoes).

Halloween night had the same routine every year. Dad was in charge of answering our door and giving out candy (talk about scary!), Mom was in charge of walking us around the neighborhood. You'd see all the kids you went to school with early in your tour. All the moms would stand back on the sidewalks while you went up the path to the door. No shortcuts. Sidewalk, path to door, back to sidewalk, path to door, back to sidewalk... Respect for the neighborhood and if you want their free candy, respect their yard and garden as well. At houses where they had a dog, my older brother would always wait on the sidewalk. "May I have another candy for my brother?" (point our kid dressed as G.I. Joe on sidewalk,) "He's afraid of your dog." (stoop down, pet miniature poodle.)

Later in the evening, a bunch of people you'd never seen before would be running wild across the lawns. That's when dad would shout, "They're busing in those god damn kids from across town!" and he'd turn off the porch light. We'd give out about 60-100 mini candy bars depending on the year. The next day he'd talk to his co-worker Gerald, and find out that he had given out 500 mini candy bars and realize that our neighborhood wasn't nearly as bad. (Seriously, every year, the same conversation on Halloween night. Then same revelation on November 1st.)

After 2-3 hours of trick or treating (depending on the weather) we three kids would come home with our pillowcases stuffed with candy, clear off the dining room table, and pour our bountiful harvest onto the table. Like thieves after looting a village, you could trust no one. Once the candy was on the table you could not leave to use the bathroom or answer a phone call because someone else was certain to steal your Nestle's Crunch or Resse's Peanut butter cups. There is no honor among sugar buzzed siblings.

We would stack and sort our candies. If you were lucky enough to get a full size candy bar, you pulled that one out and hid it back in your pillowcase. DO NOT SHOW IT TO ANYONE. Next you sort the "fun size" candy bars: Kit Kats, Three Musketeers, Milky Ways, Snickers. On to Junior Mints and Whoppers in their tiny boxes. The lesser candies: Dum-Dum suckers, Sugar Daddys, Starburst, Sweet Tarts. And finally loose hard candy and licorice from cheap people.

Highly prized:
Mountain Bars (they were large)
Mounds and Almond Joy
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
M & M's

Not valued:
Loose hard candies
Black licorice

And then a sickeningly sweet sugar based game of poker would begin.

"I'll trade you these plain M&M's for a Peanut M&M's."
No, but I will trade you these Peanut M&M's for a Mountain Bar.
"No way, TWO Peanut M&M's equal a Mountain bar!"
Do not! Fine, ONE Peanut M&M for a Mountain Bar, but I'll add in a Sugar Daddy.
"Uh... plus a bubble gum."
Okay deal.

And then with complete suspicion from both parties, each commodity was slid across the table and the transaction was completed.

This was repeated over and over again for an hour or more, all under the watchful eye of our mother. Inevitably the phone rang and my mother would leave the dining room to take the call. Deals would start to fall apart, promised goods were shorted on the slide from one side of the table to the other and all hell would break loose. That is when my dad would get up from his chair in the living room and shout, "If you kids don't shut the hell up, I'M gonna come in there and take ALL your candy and you're NEVER GOING TRICK OR TREATING AGAIN!!"

Absolute silence. All trading stopped on the commodities floor. We waited for mom to come back from the phone and only then did a whispered trading begin again in earnest.

As payment for all her hard work overseeing the deals, my mom got all the black licorice she wanted. Which was, let's face it, all the black licorice we'd received. Years later I was offering to buy her come candy and said, "Well you like black licorice, do you want that?" and she said, "No thank you. I don't like black licorice." But you always took all our black licorice that we offered you on Halloween? And she answered, "It was all you ever offered." Wow mom, way to make us feel like bad selfish children years after the fact.

At last, all the candy is sorted. The sugar rush has peaked and we are all starting to crash. We are probably about 5 minutes from my inevitable crying moment (sugar buzz, certain I was cheated in at least five of those trades, not allowed to carry a purse again for a whole year... who knows why I would cry this year, but I would still cry). My mother (The Tupperware Lady) would bring us each our own 5 gallon Tupperware canister with Tupperware lid to keep our candy organized and most importantly, fresh. Gary, the oldest, would take some of his candy up to his room and place the remainder in a different piece of Tupperware in the freezer in the basement for later. He would create this piece of theater with great flourish, counting each piece of candy headed to the freezer as he placed it in the alternate container, then seal the Tupperware lid and say, "I know EXACTLY how many candy bars are in there," eye contact to my sister, "I know exactly where I am going to place this in the freezer, " eye contact to me, "and NO ONE better touch it," eye contact to my mother, "or ELSE." (eye contact all around once more to seal the threat).

My sister never said a word. Much more subtle, she would quietly take her candy up to her room and hide it. Probably in her underwear drawer. I don't know. I never found it. She was stealth.

Me. I had a small problem with sugar. Okay it was a big problem. I couldn't get enough of the stuff. My birthday is three days after Halloween and every year I had the same goal: To make my Halloween Candy last until my birthday candy arrived.


5 GALLON CANISTER of candy... and it NEVER, EVER, MADE IT.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Seatle Hotel View, 2

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"Damn you Seattle, I was promised a CITY view and I still got water!"
(taken at The Westin Seattle)

Seattle Hotel view

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"Needle in a graystack"
(taken at Seattle)

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Change is gonna' come

Sometimes I blog on and on about what is most pressing inside my skull. Sometimes I keep those pressing thoughts all inside so they don't spill out in the wrong way. This time I shall try to hit a middle ground. Here goes...

Last month, my biggest design client asked for an additional discount off what I charge them. For over 3 years I have been giving them a 15% discount. Last month, they asked for 60% off. Oh, and they didn't want me or my team to do any less work, just take less money. When I countered with, "Hey, how about 40% off?" They told me (and I shall paraphrase) "Thanks for playing, we already have someone lined up who will do it for the lesser price. Turn in your work and final invoice this week."

So be it. (which was oddly, not my first answer)

The twist here is that my biggest client is actually two of my clients. Two halves, one company. So we all know what is coming next, right? They now want the EXACT SAME WORK for less money on the other half of the company. Hey there's always someone cheaper out there to take their money.

And so we see the writing on the wall: CHANGE IS COMING.

I leafed through my mind and found similar situations in my past. Change came, I resisted. Change came, I held on with all my might. Change came and I was devastated. Then a year later I would look at my life and laugh at how stupid I had been to think that my previous situation was so fantastic that I could never leave it. I have always landed somewhere better, somewhere less stressful, somewhere with more freedom and I have been a happier person. I decided to play those old home movies in my head and learn the valuable lesson.

I have stopped what I am doing and said out loud, "I am open to change."

I am not holding on. I am making peace with my surroundings and turning my eyes to the horizon that holds my future. If I can't make enough money to live in the center of sunny Los Angeles, than I can figure out how much money I will have and choose a new location to live that is affordable.

My ears hear "CHANGE IS COMING" and my head shouts back "SCREW THAT!" My mind takes over and talks me out of my anger and reminds me that next year is going to be amazing and I will be just fine. Ultimately my stomach tries to have the last word as it knots up and says, "But I'm not ready today..."

Then I stop and BREATHE.

I don't know yet what my future holds. But I do know this, Change is coming and I am open.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Rain, rain, go away

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"We are not a fan of rainy days. "

Friday, November 04, 2011

November 3

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"Baby, you're a firework!"