Good Luck to Me!!!

I was driving in the middle-of-nowhere on my way to the Girl Scout Service Fair (as a representative from the volunteer agency) and I'm very carefully following my internet printed directions. I took Exit 2, then took a left than took the second right and ended up on what looked like a road that leads out into the edge-of-nowhere...a little residential road shaded on both sides by these big wonderful trees and up ahead about half a block is something in the middle of the road.

It had the sun reflecting off of it-very shiny and bright colored, and I debated on whether it was too big to drive over without it damaging my car. There was no one else on the road at the time, so I chose to dirve around it (I always remember the story of my sweet little Aunt Elsie who drove over a piece of wood of some sort which was a bit too big and it ruined the undercarriage of her van).

Very carefully, but not all that slow (I HATE being late) - I just barely drove around it - yeah, it was in the MIDDLE, so I couldn't give it a LOT of room. As I get right along side of it and try to peer out onto it, it TAKES FLIGHT!! And it's one of the biggest birds I've seen in a LONG time. Or maybe just one of the biggest birds I've seen that close up. And I swear it looked at me and smiled! :)

Isn't that a sign?? Good luck is upon me or something? How often do you come within 5 feet of a red-tailed hawk? Not often I would guess. And that's why I'm the luckiest person this week.
Yeah, the whole week! It's MY week.

How can you have a bad week when you're smiled upon by a hawk half the size of your car? (The wingspan is from 43 to 57 in.)

Keep Your Fingers Dry!!

There comes a time in your life when you just get a certain craving that must be met. Sometimes that craving involves Cheetos.

Cheetos are kinda funky (it's the extruded cornmeal taste) and every time I eat them, I'm never sure if I really like the taste or not...but sometimes...SOMETIMES-you just need to eat some Cheetos.
And so it was today at work.

My old officemate used to eat Cheetos at her desk. It was one of my first memories of her actually.
She was a mess - always slurping her fingers, typing in between bites, crunching as loud as humanly possible. It was nauseating. I don't think I ate Cheetos the entire 2.5 yrs we shared an office.

However, it IS possible to eat Cheetos without reverting into camping mode (the mode where you don't wash for days, smells no longer affect you, if the fork LOOKS clean-the fork IS clean, mode). There's a definite technique to it, it's very important....because Cheetos can take you instantly into the stone age for manners.

Most of the fake cheese from cheetos sticks to your fingers because of moisture. The key is to avoid the moisture. The extruded cornmeal bits are covered in orange dye - so you're going to have SOME oranginess about you, but it really can be contained...try, for the love of Kaylen, please try!!

My attack plan is to pick up each cheeto gently with two and only two and the same two fingers, just the ends of the fingers to put it in my mouth. Then I wipe those two fingers on a napkin. Almost all the cheese-like powder stuff will rub off. It's dry and if you aren't in a hurry, this works easily.

At the end of the half of a snack bag I had today at lunch (really, I can only handle so much extruded cornmeal at a time), I can rub the ends of those two fingers on the side of my soda (cherry coke please!) and get just enough moisture to clean off any leftover nasty orange dye.

Fun Facts About Cheeots:
**One billion bags are sold each year. (I think I've bought six)
**In Korea, they have strawberry flavored ones. They also have meat-flavored ones (though I didn't see them directly, I have heard of them).
**Peru supposedly offers hot-dog flavored ones (whatever that means).
**Cheetos are said to be yummy when dipped in guacamole - though I refuse to test this.
**Tom Straub, a restaurant proprietor in Algona, Iowa, is the proud owner of the “World’s Largest Cheeto.” Lucky man.

Books Galore

I haven't talked about the books I've read lately, not because I'm not reading (ha, as if!) and not because I haven't found any good ones to read lately. I just read too many to write about them all.

Here's a book not to read when you're unhappy: Machete season : the killers in Rwanda speak .
It might just push you over the edge.
It's a very depressing first-hand account of what the killers in the Rwandan genocide lived through. Lived through, as in they survived, which was luckier than most of the people in that country. An estimated 50,000 Tutsis were murdered in May and April of 1994. 50,000 people!! That's insane. It's a number beyond comprehension when you're talking about the number of people killed, mostly with machetes, for NO reason, by their neighbors, their friends, their family members in some cases. It's horrifying. A very sad book. It's the second I've read about Rwanda. I'm done with that country for now. I can't take it any more.

Another book, a much easier read, that I finished this month is The Post-Birthday World. It's one of those books that ask, What if I had made THIS choice instead of THAT one? It follows the main character through both scenarios - one in which she chose to follow a temptation and the other where she stuck with her feeling of what was right morally. The book goes through both scenarios, switching at each chapter. It was surprisingly easy to follow along and an easy read.

I started a book called Yes Man, and is one of the few books in my life that I couldn't finish. It was not only poorly written, it was a ridiculous storyline that was meant to be a real-life happening but is so absurd that I couldn't continue pretending that it was a plausible storyline.

I read Forgive Me, which was a fun read, but somehow I ended up back in Africa. I have no idea how I picked a novel out that involved killings in Africa at the same time I got a book about killers in Africa. Purely accidental - but at least I can move out of Africa now for good. Okay, really, who knows - I'll probably end up there in some innocent novel about a child growing up in New York, it just happens that I'm drawn to the continent. Maybe a sign for the future? Anyway, Forgive Me was a good book - very quick read and I would recommend it, though not to someone who can't stomach a few descriptive sections while in Africa.

I'm reading a book about a family from Haiti right now, Brother I'm Dying. It's good. It's no Kite Runner, but it's good.

Mo Money

I keep thinking about getting a second job. The kid is busier with friends, school, chatting online, video games, sitting for long periods of time doing nothing but listening to music. He doesn't need all my free time - I should make better use of it, eh?

The only problem with getting a second job is the timing. I can't work in the evenings - I have to be home for dinner and available to help with homework as needed.

So that leaves the weekends.

But not Saturday morning, cause the kid has to get to his bowling league by 9:00am and have a ride home about 11:30am. We go to a bowling alley a little south of us and found that it's mostly made up of people who live quite south of us who don't have a bowling alley in their small town. No carpooling here.

And two Sundays a month I have my regular volunteer projects, right in the middle of the day.

That leaves me with Friday evenings after 6:30pm, Saturdays after 11:45am and Sunday nights.

And I can't really start that schedule until after December, because I have 4 volunteer projects in October, 3 in November and 4 (5?) in December, in addition to traveling for my son's FIFTEENTH birthday to visit relatives, celebrating Thanks-For-The-Food-We're-Now-Taking-Over-Your-Land day, shopping for the holidays and then traveling again to see the family.

Not really a lot of time to make much money...and who wants the employee with a schedule like that?

I need to find a job where I can work at home anytime during the week. Then I can work around my regular job schedule, the kids schedule, dinner schedule and the weekend schedule.

Too Busy To Type

I am just not motivated this week.

Things I have to do:
  • Sort through the three boxes in the corner of my dining room - leftovers from the garage sale in August, stuff I need to try to sell.
  • Read and learn more about Filemaker Pro.
  • Play darts with the kid.
  • Read four library books.
  • Scrapbook the first six years of my precious child's life.
  • Sell the kids futon, hero clix, race track and matchbox cars (from when he was 5), and the approximately 150 action figures sitting in a big bin on the back porch (which he has also had since he was 5).
  • Prepare for the next two Sundays of volunteer events.
  • Create a monthly budget (since the paycheck budget I have been going on year is not working out).
  • Vacuum my car.
  • Water my plants (I can't remember the last time I did...I like to think that the drought we're in now is only making them stronger).
  • Clean my computer hard drive. We were trying to set up my sons Zune to save videos to it and in the process, we downloaded approximately 6 freeware programs that will do the converting Quick and Simple for us. Unfortunately, none of them were quick, and none were simple. After 90 minutes spent on this project from Satanville, I ended up paying for a product online that I knew worked, but I was trying to get for free. Afterwards my son said, "I've never seen you be so negative about something before!" I was prepared to stay up all night if I had to - I WAS going to make this work....i just wasn't really happy about it - but I was not going to give up. He paid (mostly his own money) over $200 for this "thing" that plays video and it had been six months with no videos and he was preparing to take a 3 hr plane ride - I was not going to give up. And I didn't....but I did end up paying $30.00, which isn't that much I guess.
  • Work out (ha).
  • Blog about my exciting and fascinating life.

Things I did this week instead of the above:

  • Read one book from the library.
  • Started a puzzle.
  • Answered about 17 emails about upcoming volunteer projects.
  • Planned a game night with my MeetinPortland friends.
  • Watched Heroes, Biggest Loser, Survivor and ER on tv (but without commercials, so the hour long shows are only 40 minutes).
    Went to the library.
  • Visited the new location for my volunteer projects to check on the room capacity.
  • Met with 6 people to play Phase 10 (and after graciously showing these people how to play, they had the nerve to beat me. Badly.)
  • Learned how to make bullets on my blog!

Event Planner Extraordinaire

Wow, it's been a long time since I've written. A LOT has happened since last we met....

The big conference came and went. It was VERY successful if you look at it from an outsider. The networking social on Friday night was great-the hotel had good food, a free chair massage for everyone, and people had a great time. I got my drinks comped all night and they also gave me a free room - so it was good for me! Saturday, things went smoothly, there were no upsets, nothing was forgotten, no one had any complaints-total success. We had about 92% attendance (from who was registered) and only one vendor didn't make it (but we knew about it the week before-family illness). The ENTIRE day I received compliments about how great it was. It was our first annual meeting of this type and I think people were a bit unsure as to how it would come out, but --it turned out GREAT. Many people told me that I should consider a wedding or event planner as a career.. I felt good about it, knowing that 85% of pulling that conference together was on my shoulders.

On the inside tip, I felt like I was not connected to my co-workers who I'd been working closely with for the last 6 months on making this a success. Friday night setup was a disaster, I was frantically rushing about and they avoided me, because they "could see I was frustrated." And then when my frustration turned into anger, they didn't feel like they could talk to me at all-which is true. I didn't think they were there for me when I needed them, even though I said the words "I need help" and really, the sweat on my brow and the rushing about from one room to the next should have been a clue as well. I just felt abandoned in my time of need and as such, became very irritated. The job got done, things were successful, but I feel like I lost two friends. Was it worth it? No comment.

It certainly made me question my ability to lead a group of people, though I have been leading groups of people for the last 8 yrs in my volunteer work and never had anything come close to this incident. I spent the last week questioning my ability to be a project manager and reliving things that I could have done differently to make it run smoother.

It's a hard spot - they were my friends, and I just assumed they would be there. When they weren't, my human emotions took over and we weren't able to come together for the good of the project. Everything got done - I think it took longer than necessary and I think there was more stress than was needed - but everything got done. I am not here to make friends, right? I'm here to do my job.
That's my new attitude. I hate it....but I guess it's necessary.

AND THEN - I had this big volunteer project this weekend. I was deemed to be the one that Hands on felt would make the best project manager for this job, an honor of course, but I was quite nervous about it, especially after the problems with my conference-mates the week before. I think I was overly on edge about what I said to people and how I said it...which I guess is good, but it's frustrating as I'm pretty confident in my ability to lead a project. The volunteer project went well, though some issues arose that were out of my hands.

We were expecting 106 people from Comcast. We got 66. That's a big shortage of hands. And not only that...but I would guess we had about 10 kids under the age of 9. Ten kids under the age of nine means we had a daycare section at the project. Unfortunately, the "daycare" was the landscaping group. They could do the least amount of damage in spreading bark, however, it slows down the project infinitely. At some point, I let some of the kids come inside and paint a wall. One youngster, we'll call him Jimmy, was VERY ambitious. Everytime I turned around, he was off on his own agenda. Jimmy was like a gremlin that someone has consistently fed after midnight.

I said a lot of this:
Jimmy, wait for your mom.
Jimmy, where's your mom?
Jimmy, you can't paint yet.
Jimmy, you can't paint there.
Jimmy, you only need one brush at a time.
Jimmy, only paint in the middle of the wall.
Jimmy, don't go anywhere.
Jimmy, where's your mom?
Jimmy, wait for your mom.

Jimmy painted the floor, the walls we weren't painting, the outside of the paint can, other kids, and maybe a little bit of the wall we were painting. It wouldn't have been so tragic if his mom was more concerned, however, she just continued to paint her section and watched as we cleaned up his mess. I had to ask her to take little Jimmy home, that he had really done all he could do to help. Help set us back in time/manpower, that is.

We didn't finish all the projects I wanted to, but we did really well considering we were 38 people down and had the help of a 6 yr old named Jimmy.
And it helped me believe in my ability to manage a large group of people again, which was wonderful. I have already let Hands On know that I want to host a couple more projects at the school to get things finished for them - without children or gremlins.


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