Friday, May 30, 2008

Updates from a really crappy blogger

It's true, I don't seem to have the same drive to blog lately. Maybe it's because my life just isn't that interesting. Maybe, over a three year span, I have basically expressed every opinion, musing, and soap box tirade in my repertoire, and I have nothing left to offer. Maybe I spend too much time sitting at the computer. Maybe the evolving nature of my professional life has made too many of life's funny stories off-limits as blogging potential. I would try to explain that last one, but I can't think of a way to do so without revealing that which must be kept off-limits if I want to keep working in this town. Plus there are some professional ethics involved. Stupid ethics.

But here are a few things I can report.

On Sunday, I will be standing up in front of the largest crowd I've ever spoken before, upwards of 2,000 people. Including the governor, the speaker of the (state) house, and the senate majority leader. I was chosen to pinch hit for somebody else, because the organizers of this event have decided that I'm the sort of person who can be asked at the last minute to stand up in front of a bunch of people, deliver a serviceable if not terribly dynamic spiel, and not freak out. We'll see if they're right. Let's hope so. Because I don't really have time to complete a Toastmasters course before then.

Things to do before Sunday: Pick out some clean clothes. Rehearse script. Shave legs.

Enrico's thumb is growing back. Thanks for asking!

And, I have decided (and Enrico has agreed) that we will try a variant of the 100-Mile Diet for the month of July. Our variant will actually be a Washington state diet, with two key exceptions: coffee and olive oil, those twin elixirs of life! I just received a shipment of flour that I ordered from what appears to be the only producers of flour from wheat grown in Washington, so we can make our own bread and pasta for the month. I'm going to have to give up sugar, but at least our state makes plenty of honey. And thank HEAVENS, lots of alcoholic beverages. I'm planning a field trip to a farm that produces open-range meat, dairy and eggs. If anybody knows of a source of lentils and dried beans grown in Washington, please, let me know. Washington state is supposedly the biggest producer of lentils in the country - they grow 'em by the bucket out in the Pelouse - but damn if I can figure out how to know whether I'm buying local.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The City by the Bay, the Emergency Room, and other adventures

This past weekend I made an absolutely fabulous trip to San Francisco to meet up with my sister. She is there on business this week, and a month ago she called me and said, I know you just went to Paris, and probably spent a whole year's vacation budget on that trip, but is there any chance you could bop down to San Francisco for a girls' weekend? And I said: Does a bear have hair!?

We had a fabulous time, and everything went like clockwork. Our flights arrived within an hour of each other, right on time. Priceline came through at the last minute with a decent hotel that was, if not reasonably priced, at least manageable when split two ways. The weather was spectacular. The food was scrumptious. I managed to buy myself a pair of earrings - which may not seem like a big deal but bear in mind that I own absolutely no earrings, all of my jewelry having been stolen four months ago, and my holes were starting to close up. But if you're just going to own one pair of earrings, it becomes a momentous decision. I am pleased with my choice, a white-gold-and-black-pearl combination that is so flexible, I may never need another pair.

Anyway - My sister has posted her pictures so I'll just send you there to check them out.

Moxie had never visited San Francisco before - how is that possible? - but even I managed to do some new things in my 48-hour whirlwind visit. Like take the streetcar across town and back, hanging on for dear life while standing on the running boards. Most cities would have stopped letting people hang off the sides of those things long ago, because seriously, it is not that safe. But god love San Francisco for refusing to jettison tradition for the sake of liability paranoia.

The trip was only slightly marred by the fact that my brother-in-law (Moxie's husband) broke his wrist over the weekend, and was forced to navigate the emergency room and adjustment to one-handed living while all alone. Having some experience with broken extremities myself - it's kind of a hobby - I feel for him. But he's plucky.

And then it got even weirder when I got home and Enrico promptly sliced off the top of his thumb while making dinner. So we got our own trip to the emergency room. Enrico is fine, the thumb will grow back, and nothing had to be re-attached. But to do that story justice, I'll have to blog about it another day. I'll just leave you with this little tidbit of dialog from our car ride home from the hospital:

"So what do your discharge orders say?"

"'You have lost the tip of your finger...'"

"Well that's not really accurate. You didn't lose the tip of your finger, you cut it off."

"Of course I didn't lose it! It's right here in my pocket, wrapped in gauze. I thought they might want it. I know exactly where it is."

Gotta go now. Enrico is going to remove the high-tech battlefield clotting gel from his thumb.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

On another note: Frantically studying consensus

This morning I got a semi-frantic call from a past client saying that they are VERY STUCK on a VERY IMPORTANT DECISION and can I please come facilitate an emergency meeting tomorrow to help them get unstuck?

It really is a very important decision. And in fact I advised them weeks ago that they should, before getting any further down their path, agree on exactly how they would make this decision. But alas, time was of the essence and they were flush with the glow of possibilities.

So although I have relatively little experience working with true consensus models of decision-making - consensus being a term that is misused most of the time to mean "unanimity" when in fact it's a much more complicated thing - I am hard at work reviewing the tools of the trade so as to try to help these lovely people.

A flurry of emails and phone calls have ensued, with phrases like "savior" and "to the rescue" bandied about. These phrases make me very alarmed because I can be neither savior nor rescuer. That is decidedly not on our list of consulting services, and if it were, we would command a much higher billable rate. But nonetheless, I will show up tomorrow with a reasonable grasp of the principles of consensus.

Friday, May 02, 2008


I am so depressed at the way the Democratic primary has turned into a full-blown Shakespearean tragedy. As my husband will attest, I cannot stand to read or watch stories where you see this awful train wreck coming, and there's nothing you can do to stop it. That's why I stopped reading Atonement a couple of chapters in, though I went to the movie thinking - hey, it's just 2 hours long; I'm sure it ends with some kind of uplifting resolution, right? I can stand to get there in 2 hours if not 200 pages. And then, there was no uplifting.

Anyway, that is how the Democratic primary seems. Hillary Clinton is determined to destroy Barak Obama at any cost because she's sure that she can and must defeat McCain in the general election. She is convinced that she can do infinite amounts of damage to him, the party, her own standing with black people, because there will be some kind of happy re-set button as soon as the nomination is closed.

I, who once rejoiced that I would eventually be voting for either the first woman president or the first black president, envisioned a general election where I would actually work on behalf of a candidate, for the first time - and it didn't even matter which one it was.

Oh, how those days are gone. I feel nothing but dread and disgust, once again, in the face of our political process. I want to like Clinton but I can no longer muster any warmth of feeling whatsoever. And what bothers me most is that she seems to be showing us that she really loves the dirty, elbow-throwing, grudge-holding, scorched-earth, my-way-or-the-highway politics that have gotten us into so many messes. I guess I thought that after creating so much ill will in the world, after so many years of entrenched bitterness paralyzing our systems of government, we might actually get somebody with the will and the leadership presence to say: "Whoa. Everybody take a deep breath. We're all in this together. There's a better way forward, a more graceful and productive way, and I actually have the vision to help us all take it." I have been waiting for our Churchill moment. Alas, Clinton seems not only to have fallen into the ways of scorched-earthing and grudge-holding, she seems to relish it. And her husband too. That makes me sad.

I actually think that Barak Obama is the person with the will and the leadership presence to mobilize us on that more graceful path, but sadly, it appears that it might actually matter that he is black. This also makes me sad. And again, with the Shakespearean tragedy thing. Jeremiah Wright - why on earth is he stoking the fires? Why can't the media let this go? Why is it that when Wright says 9/11 is God's damnation for America's sins, it becomes endless media fodder that damns the candidate too, but when Jerry Falwell declares that 9/11 is God's damnation for America's (homosexual) sins it's barely a blip on the radar, let alone a real problem for Bush or McCain? Why is the Daily Show the only "news" outlet that is pointing out this hypocrisy?

Meanwhile, we continue to fall for that oldest trick in the book: When the people are on the verge of uniting for real change, find a way to turn them upon each other. Witness the black community under attack, and eating itself alive along with the feminist movement, with the rest of the left either joining in the fight or standing by in helpless hand-wringing. How did the Clinton campaign go so far over to the Dark Side that they are actually fomenting the self-destruction?

So here I sit: The candidate whom I think to be better qualified to make actual reforms (Clinton), now appears to me fatally flawed and blinded by her gleeful embrace of dirty, win-or-lose politics. The candidate whom I think to be our first real shot at a visionary personality who can transcend old ways and mobilize us on a new path (Obama) now appears fatally flawed because of the color of his skin. I'm no longer sure either of them can win, and I think to a significant extent they did that to each other. It's almost enough to make me stay home in November.