Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I can't believe I only have 8 more posts until I hit the 150 mark! Time flies when you're unemployed, re-employed, and then incredibly busy with your burgeoning social life.

Following the lovely TSA Convention, my week gained speed, as I helped my beloved Mum celebrate her birthday, then visited my best friend from high school, who is in town with the most adorable little blond baby known to mankind. As I pointed out to her, however, with a mom as beautiful as she is and a father as handsome her husband, it would have been impossible not to have a beautiful baby!

I spent every standing moment today wondering if I was appropriately dressed. A few months ago, I bought a grey knit dress that hits about mid-thigh. I wore it to work today with opaque black tights and a grey and black striped scarf and black equestrian boots. Ahem. Because I'm such a horse lover.


As the day went on, the dress started clinging to things that I hadn't previously noticed it clinging to, particularly my derrier. Fortunately, I spend most of my days sitting down in my corner cubicle, watching cars fly past on the freeway and being thankful that I don't drive a tractor trailer for a living, because people cut you off all the time. The few times I stood up to walk to the loo or to raid the candy dish on the front desk (Krackel bars! Yum!), I felt a bit self-conscious. The skirt is longer than one I used to wear to my old and much more staid office, but it just...

It clings.

Maybe I need to invest in a good girdle to keep that from happening again?

Because everyone knows that a girl in a girdle is hot.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

TSA Convention Report

I only went to the TSA convention on Saturday - that's Texas Society of Architects, in case you forgot.

It was incredibly boring.

The two seminars to which I managed to make it were vaguely amusing at best, and stultifyingly boring at worst. The first seminar was full, so I was forced to seat myself on the floor at the back of the not-so-grand meeting room at the George R. Brown Convention Center. I was wearing a skirt, you see, so there was some definite awkwardness in lowering myself. Once down, I realized that it would be very difficult for me to get back up again. Hmmm...

The presentation had just started when I entered the room, and after 30 seconds, I knew it was going to be an utter snooze-fest. Fortunately, the gentleman seated next to me on the floor had a piece of paper handy, so we were able to play several games of tic-tac-toe before the discomfort caused by sitting on unpadded carpet tiles overcame my tushie's stamina and I was forced to - awkwardly - raise myself up and flee through a back door. I sought the warmth of a cup of tea at the Starbucks a floor below and sat myself down in a slightly more comfortable than the floor metal chair. Apparently, the George R. Brown Convention Center only wants its patrons sitting in not-so-grand meeting rooms, and nowhere else. I emailed a friend sitting in the Starbucks - by far the longest email ever typed on an iPhone, I really think it's a world record - and was eventually forced to flee the area by a young man with the worst table manners I've ever encountered.

I COULD HEAR HIM CHEWING FROM FIFTEEN FEET AWAY. Since audible mastication is pet-peeve numero uno, I obviously didn't last long. The World's Longest Email might have been lengthier if not for the loud luncher's arrival.

The next seminar was more interesting, but still nothing to write home about. Alas, there were no tic-tac-toe partners, so I was stuck all by my lonesome. Sure, there was a large and offensively odiferous man sitting next to me, but I wouldn't have wanted to play Hangman with him even if he'd been so creative as to offer the chance.

The high point of the conference actually came after the conference was technically sort of over. I got to tour the Cordell house in Houston, which is constructed from shipping containers. The main house was interesting, but what really fascinated me was the small guest house nearby, which was still under construction. I spent more time in it than I did in the main house. It was also a pleasant experience because people kept seeing my name tag and that I work for Oldsmobile, and they kept saying things like, "Oh, wow! You work for Oldsmobile? He's so talented!" to which I would respond, "Yes, I'm very lucky."

Aside from getting greasy chorizo juice on my pristine white blouse, courtesy of the taco truck, it was a wonderful morning.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

These Boots are Made for Puddle Jumping

My coworkers tease me about creating a Megan Indicator for the economy. In general, it works this way: the more shipments of goods that arrive at the office for me, the worse the economy is.

Today, I received a beautiful pair of orange Hunter wellies. Do you know what wellies are? Some synonyms are gum-boots, rubbers, and galoshes. Now do you know what they are?

They're absolutely wonderful, is what they are.

Unless you have to drive. Then you must take them off.

I've always had Wellies that cut off about mid-calf or even lower (rubber ankle-boots, essentially). My Hunters stop about three inches shy of my knees. They're more rigid than my previous and dear departed wellies, which means that I can't flex my foot enough to drive in them. Hopefully, they'll get more flexible as I wear them, but I had to pull my car over to take them off for fear of rear-ending one of the Mercedes in my neighborhood or taking out the cute guy that keeps looking at the condo for sale on my block (hello, prospective neighbor!).

And we don't want to take out the cute guy. Unless it's to dinner.

I actually made a point of going out in the rain just so I could wear my new boots. I went to the grocery store, and I went to Crate & Barrel. I simply have to have a ladle now. I can't live without one another day. Ooh! And I can't live without some of that fancy glass tupper-ware I've been hankering after, either.

So I got to get out and stomp around in my big orange boots whilst wearing a scarf, and I felt very chic. Secretly, however, I was longing for the company of he who wears Wellies best, a.k.a. Andrew Bird.

We could totally bond over our mutual love of Wellies.

It's a match made in heaven.

Monday, October 19, 2009

So Ready for TSA... Sort Of

I'm going to the Texas Society of Architects convention in Houston, this weekend. I'm excited about it, but mostly because I get to have a fancy-schmancy brunch at a fancy-schmancy house, and I get to see my sister. The other stuff I'm supposed to do...

Eh, not so excited.

There's a couple of seminars to go to that should be informative, but I'm not going to the actual convention until Saturday, which means I'll have one day of doing seminars before the whole thing ends. I had initially intended to ask for a couple of days so I could go Thursday and Friday - general overhead type days that wouldn't count against my vacation time because I'd be a font of useful information when I return. Missing work this past week for emergencies and medical appointments and all manner of fun stuff like that put the kabosh on asking for more time off, particularly since I'm going to have to take a full day off in November for EEGs and MRIs. Neat.

So now I have to figure out what the heck I'm going to wear at the conference, this weekend. At my last job, I dressed more business than casual, and my current job is business casual, but tending more towards casual (I wear jeans 4 days a week). I really don't want to wear heels around the convention center, but that limits my clothing choices.

The convention is business casual, but there's a dearth of office-appropriate trousers in my closet (a former colleague once cracked, "Oh my god! You own pants?!?!?!" when I showed up to the office in a pair of ivory trousers). Most of the skirts I own with which I would usually wear flats are decidedly thigh-skimming.

I guess it's time to drag out the wardrobe boxes under the bed, eh?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It's Been a Helluva Week, Folks

I haven't written much, recently, but... okay, up until this week, I didn't have any excuses, but this week there have been crises galore, along with some planned happenings, such as my trip to the neurologist.

I will not go into the crises, as they are a bit too personal, but let's just say they're critical crises. And stressful. Very, very stressful.

On to the neurologist! The appointment was actually kind of fun (nothing like the doc underestimating the length of your gams so you kick her in the shins during the reflex test!). For once, I saw a doctor for the first time who accepted what I was telling her without questioning the veracity of my statements.

And she had some stuff to add to what I said, like "Oh, that's not a symptom of a migraine, really. That's more a symptom of seizures."

Excuse me, what?

Pretty much, I might be having seizures as a result of having migraines. Not flailing around foaming at the mouth seizures, but small seizures that cause me to smell things that aren't there.

That was the critical clue and the reason I'm having both an EEG and an MRI. People who have migraines small things that are already there, just more strongly. People having seizures smell things that aren't there, typically really noxious things like sulphur and rotten eggs. Or, in my case, fecal matter. To each his own, eh?

So I'm getting closer to having a solution to my problem, maybe. She gave me some medicine to take if I get a migraine, and some medicine to take for the nausea that accompanies my migraines, and some medicine to take before I get my MRI, because I'm claustrophobic as all get-out and had a panic attack during the last MRI I had (back in 2005). Hopefully, we'll find that there's nothing growing in my brain that shouldn't be there, and that I'm actually not having seizures (cross the fingers, because the thought is just kind of scary) and that I can be treated with migraine medicine.


Monday, October 12, 2009

"The Africa House" by Christina Lamb

I was so proud of myself. I was about to save a copy of the image for this post to my hard drive so I could upload it to the blog, and then I could hit Publish Post and I would have a blog all posted and ready.

Then, my web browser crashed.

Why, Google Chrome? Why???

So, let's start again, shall we?

I just finished rereading The Africa House by Christina Lamb.

Why did I reread it? Because it's a good book, obviously. Also, I had just finished reading The Bolter about the scandalous Idina Sackville, and I thought - mistakenly - that TAF also took place in Kenya.

I was wrong. The Africa House takes place in Zambia. Oops.

Regardless, I enjoyed rereading TAF because it's so fascinating and beautifully written. It follows the life of Stewart Gore-Browne, your typical stiff-upper-lip Englishman with a bowler hat, monocle and cane, who decides to start a plantation in Africa so he can spirit away his lovely aunt there to live with him.

Yup, pretty typical of the British.

Did I mention he also campaigned for self-governance of the British colony and helped it gain its independence? No? Well, there, then, I just did.

He was the only white man ever to receive both a chief's burial and a state funeral, and the first white man to abandon his British citizenship for Zambian citizenship when the country became independent.

He married a woman half his age (although that didn't last forever) and had two daughters by her. She also happened to be the daughter of his first girlfriend, who married someone else.

So essentially Stewart Gore-Browne was good with nation-building, bad with romantic decisions.

I'm going to chalk that up to repressive boarding schools.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Back In The Saddle Again

I'm back at work now, and it feels pretty darned good. I still have a hacking cough, but other than that, my illness is all gone. The steroids are finished, too, so I finally got a decent night's sleep, Wednesday night.

Wednesday night, which also happened to be my birthday.

I enjoyed my birthday, but I didn't do anything crazy or go out partying. I had dinner with my mom, sister, and brother-in-law, and watched my sister's male dog molest my male dog, who didn't seem to know what to do.

After dinner and the show, we had birthday cake - carrot cake, mmmmmm - and then I headed back to my apartment.

My coworkers were amazed when I arrived at the office Thursday morning with half a carrot cake under my arm. I told them it was my birthday, and they all got upset, as if I'd intentionally hid the fact from them. I shrugged and told them I don't make a big deal out of my birthdays. Friday, we are having a birthday lunch for me, which is apparently how things are done, but only for me (we didn't go to lunch for Scooter's birthday).

Thursday evening, in my own little birthday celebration, I chopped off all of my hair. Yup, all 3 inches of it. For a while, I had what I referred to as long luxurious tresses, which means that my hair was longer than 1 1/2 inches. I had bangs that covered my forehead and part of my eyes, and I got a ton of compliments on the "new do."


I never really felt that confident with my hair that long. Strange as it may seem, I'm much more confident in my femininity when my hair is really really short, as it now is. With my longer hair, and my more casual work wardrobe, I always felt vaguely like a soccer mom. Now, I feel a little edgier and more youthful.

Oh, and I look like I'm about 18, too.

Does this mean I'll look 30 when I'm 40? I sure hope so!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sick Day Partt Deux

I stayed home from work again, today. Could I have gone in? Possibly, but I would have been miserable about an hour into the day.

The doctor prescribed steroids to help clear up the inflammation in my upper respiratory system. Great. Awesome. Out, out! Damned inflammation!

The doctor also prescribed some antibiotics to banish the bacteria from my upper respiratory system. Out, out! Damned micro-organisms!

The doctor also prescribed a cough-suppressant chock full of fun narcotics. Not so great.

The problem is that the steroids keep me up, but the narcotic is supposed to help me sleep. The two combined, however, mean I lie in bed in a quasi-dream state for hours at a time, thinking 30 minutes has passed when it's been 2 hours. I know I haven't slept, because I've been borderline lucid the whole time, and I don't feel at all rested.

So I'm exhausted. On the upside, I didn't do anything productive, today, so I got a bit of a mental rest, and I refrained from running errands, so I was able to physically rest.

So, remember kids, steroids on their own are ok.
Narcotics on their own are ok.

But steroids + narcotics = insomnia.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sick Day

I wish I could somehow manage to have sick days when I feel okay. I think I'd enjoy them more.

Could I have gone to work today and slogged through a full 8 hours of architectural specifications? Yes, I probably could have. However, I can't just think of myself, especially not since my boss is 164 years old. God forbid I should be the employee to bring in the virus/bacterial infection that... I don't even want to think about it, but I'm loathe to go into work if I feel ill, these days, from fear of infecting someone else.

I'm coughing, feel icky, and I can't decide if I'm well enough to go to work tomorrow without infecting everything within sight. Part of me says, "You haven't run a fever in 24 hours, go for it," but part of me isn't entirely sure that I've been fever-free for 24 hours, because I'm on steroids, so they make me feel feverish. I guess I could dig out the good old digital thermometer and see what it says, eh?

I didn't spend the entire day in bed, Monday, unlike Saturday and Sunday. I ran to the Container Store (aka Mecca) and to Tom Thumb for some groceries that are not to be found at Whole Foods. I wore my new Metallica shirt (grey-on-grey tie-dye with a black fanged/winged skull on it that says "Seek and Destroy"... I did not realize it was this scary when I bought it, and from 30 feet away at the T-shirt stand thought the graphic might be "pretty." My mom said she liked it, though, so I decided I could wear it out in public) and got lots of scared looks from the blue-haired old ladies that frequent Tom Thumb at noon.

What did I buy at Container Store? I'm so glad you asked. I bought a couple of "unbreakable" plastic storage containers for colored pencils and art markers. My collections of both have outgrown their plastic-baggie and left-over-cardboard-finger-puppet-boxes. I also bought spring-loaded drawer dividers to tidy up my t-shirt/camisole drawer.

I'm pretty sure the drawer front is going to fly off in the middle of the night as a result of all that spring-loaded action and kill me. But at least I'll have tidy drawers when I go!

I've also realized that being ill is dangerous. It makes me reassess my financial position and savings/investing strategies, gets me back on track starting up a side business, and finds me zipping out quantities of emails relating to said side business to individuals and potential contractors of all shapes and sizes.

So, the good news is: I've been incredibly productive the past couple of days.

The bad news is: I've been incredibly productive the past couple of days, and I should have been resting, instead.

So, maybe I'll start resting a bit more, right now.

Time to get back to reading.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"Dancing to the Precipice" by Caroline Moorehead

One bonus of being ill is that I've had tons of time for reading. It's a good thing I went on an Amazon binge a while back, or I would have been bored out of my mind.

The first book I decided to tackle is called Dancing to the Precipice and it's amazing. It's the biography of Lucie de la Tour du Pin, wife of a liberal monarchist during the French Revolution. Over the course of her lifetime, she gave birth to way to many children, fled into exile way too many times, and somehow managed to approach all the sorrows of life with an amazing strength. She was a friend of Napoleon and her mother was one of Marie Antoinette's ladies in waiting. Her children were involved in coups and her husband served as ambassador to Holland.

At one point, Lucie lived in Troy, New York, and befriended Alexander Hamilton. She knew the Rensselaer family and operated a prosperous farm. She was caring and friendly towards the Native Americans her fellow exiles despised.

Lucie grew up amidst the grand salons of Paris, the intellectual hive that contributed to the brilliant works of Voltaire and Diderot. When her domineering grandmother refused to allow her to marry the man her father had chosen for her, she put her foot down, refusing all other offers of marriage until her grandmother relented and allowed her to marry her beloved Frederic. This, despite the fact that she had never actually met Frederic, but that's a minor detail. The women knew how to stick to her guns.

Dancing to the Precipice is an amazing book, well-written, and with enough end-notes to satisfy even the pickiest of chronicle-readers, although I confess I was a bit frustrated by the fact that the end notes are not enumerated in the text (you have to flip to the back, find the sentence, and match it to the bit at the end. A bit of a pain, really. I like traditional numbered end-notes more).

If you happen to share my taste in biographies - namely, books about strong women who embodied the British mantra of Keep Calm and Carry On - then pick it up. You won't regret it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


I posted Tuesday, and then neglected to post again. I've been insanely busy, catching up with the parents, going to the grocery store and dropping off clothes at the dry-cleaners (which I will not be picking up today, okay Joe?). I was supposed to have a house-warming soiree this evening - nothing fancy, just a few of my nearest and dearest and in-townest friends - but then...


I didn't feel well Friday, and was only able to plow through the mountains of Architectural Specifications on which I've been working by sheer force of will. I took some NyQuil and headed to bed, hoping to awaken in better health.

Didn't happen.

I awoke with a head full of cotton-wool and with my brains oozing from my nostrils, or so it seemed. Also, someone replaced my esophagus with sandpaper. I had to text-message and email all my party guests to let them know that the party was NOT happening, because I am incredibly sick. One of them was so bold as to accuse me of ditching the party plans because I had somehow managed to procure a hot date. If only...

So I used my time wisely by getting a jump on that most onerous of tasks: filing for income taxes.

Wait, what? Those aren't due until April!

I know, I know. But that's no reason not to go ahead and sort out all the receipts for my filing now so I won't have as much work to do when April rolls around, is it? Apparently not, for me. Plus, it gave the opportunity to perform one of my favorite actions: the creation of a spreadsheet.

I love spreadsheets. They make me happy. I create them at work for Architectural Details, and then color-code them by the rooms in which they are used (Bathrooms' cells are blue, etc.). My coworkers think I'm nuts, but in a pat the young OCD intern-architect on the head and smile at her condescendingly kind of way, which is better, I guess, than the OH MY GOD SHE'S GOING TO GO POSTAL ON US ALL kind of way.

I love statistics of all kinds. I used to have a huge Guinness Book of World's Records that I practically memorized, and I have a statistics tracker tied to this blog (you hear that, whoever you are in Indonesia? I know you're there, even if I don't know who you are!). I always get a kick when I receive the Year In Review or whatever it is that the Economist sends out to its subscribers. It details all the facts and figures for the preceding year and how they've changed.

Is that nerdy? Yes.

Do I care that you think it's nerdy? No.