I’ll be back… well actually I almost am!!

Well..HELLO!!!  After about 7 weeks of traveling the U.S. and visiting friends and family, I am finally starting training.  It was an amazing trip that took me from Washington State to New York and finally down to North Carolina and eventually back to DC.  Along the way I took some great photos that I’m hoping to share in the coming weeks. I had an awesome time with the kids, the grandkids and several friends that have spanned a 40 year period of my life.  I’ve closed some doors and opened others.  Made some resolutions and broke others.  Now comes the return to work.  I’m excited as I have never been very good with too much time on my hands and nothing productive to do.

I have a new macbook pro and after only 2 days I was back at the Apple store ready to return it.  I couldn’t load any of my photos, there were so many things happening that appeared out of my control and I could not get ahold of customer support. I once again contacted the online appointment system and was told by an automated (person??)  “We are so sorry there are no “genius bar” appointments available.”    Automated phone rage was setting in.  I made a call to the store and when I was told that there was no one to help me today I asked if someone could help me return the machine.  A not so nice, “well, yes” was handed to me.  I angrily stomped all the way to the store.

At the store I was politely told, “It’s not us, it’s YOU!!”  I was walked through an on-the-spot training to learn some of the newest and “coolest” ways of using this new technology.  I get it now, though I’m not sure I love it yet. I was also having trouble up-loading my photos and just like when you take a car into the mechanic.. none of the problems I was experiencing from home was happening at the store.

It was true it wasn’t the computer it WAS me.  New formats for WordPress photos, new computer operating system, new everything..  WHY… WHY.. WHY do companies change technology so often when it worked so well before.  Do they not understand the old dog – new trick issues? So here goes.  I am hoping to start up with blogging again.. though the internet here has been mediocre at best.  Boo !!!!!

Now enough of all of that.. I think I mentioned before all of my first world problems.  If a computer glitch (and a new computer at that glitch) is the worst thing I am going to be faced with in the coming year then I guess I have it pretty good.  The bottom line is I had an exceptional 2 months of travel and I am ready to begin training for my new location.  It’s good to be back and I promise this is the last of my complaints.. for… today.

Closer to 50 than to 40 – I wish I had known Tacky

After reading John’s blog You Really Ought to Shut Up I was reminded of a time very long ago when I just got tired of myself.  I got tired of my voice, of the negative self-talk, of the drama that I would create in my own mind about everything and everyone around me.  I never felt good enough I always felt like I didn’t fit in.  My life really seemed to suck.

In my own defense I was about 15 years old and was probably no more self-absorbed than anyone else in my age group but it really felt like the world was out to get me.

One day I had just had enough and I was tired of feeling the way I did and was confused about why I felt the way I did and so I decided to conduct a little experiment.  I decided to become invisible.  I decided I would pretend that I didn’t exist and try for once in my life to actually see how other people acted and re-acted without me in the picture.  To basically “shut up” that inner voice inside my head that refused to let me believe that I was as ok as everyone else out there.

It started slowly.. I would softly and quietly fade into the background in social situations.  I would not comment on things or express opinions (as much as was possible for someone like me).  I would dress in a non-visible way.. in things that would not catch the eye of anyone.

I stopped talking myself into frenzies or in disrespecting ways.  What began to happen was that in my quietness I began to listen more, observe more, take in more and also I began to realize just a little more about what was really going on in my world.  Things I should have been noticing before, listening to before and acknowledging more before.

First thing I realized was that SOOOOOO many people sort of felt bad about something about themselves or wanted to change something about themselves.  Everyone had insecurities, dysfunctions, obsessions and possibly a multitude of other discrepancies that never shown themselves as blazingly as mine and yet they were O.K.  I wouldn’t have even noticed the problems of others if I hadn’t become invisible enough to see them.

I began to see that when a person made a mistake or embarrassed themselves people would notice more often than not but would get over it in an amazingly short amount of time.  NO ONE focused on the problems of others or the mistakes of others as much as the person themself did.

It dawned on me that NO ONE even remembered the time 5 years before when I tripped down a set of stairs and bit through my lip while at the same time dropping a tray of food I had been carrying which ended up spilling all over this very nice lady and ruining her dress.  NO ONE.  NOT ONE.   No one could recall the time I was giving a presentation in class and through nervousness burped and slightly farted at the same time.  I felt I could never live THAT one down.  The only time anyone even thought about it is when I brought it up.

My invisibility increased and slowly I began to realize that I was actually a decent person, or at least no worse than anyone else and without all of my personal insecurities and hang-ups people actually seemed to like me.  I was O.K.  I began to be less concerned with how others perceived me and slowly began to realize that my social awkwardness, misunderstanding of gravity and lack of coordination were just a part of who I was.  I had other “mad” skills in many other areas.  Still, this was not an instant recovery, it took years.  Even now I sometimes just have to tell myself:

At some point in my life, either through raising children or teaching, I happened on a children’s book who’s primary character was a penguin named Tacky.

Tacky is an odd bird who marches to the beat of his own drummer. He’s socially awkward, clumsy and eccentric.  He never actually fits in anywhere but he’s oblivious to that fact.   I like Tacky.

Some examples of Tacky’s situations:

Tacky, the penguin, and his friends, perform a play for the little penguins in Mrs. Beakly’s class, but with Tacky in the lead role, things do not go exactly as planned.

tacky_and_the_winter_games.jpg tacky_looked_mighty_tacky.png
Tacky and his fellow penguins on Team Nice Icy Land train hard for the Winter Games, but Tacky’s antics make their chances of winning a medal seem slim.

tacky_goes_to_camp.jpgTacky the penguin and his friends go to Camp Whoopihaha, where they scare each other by telling ghost stories around the campfire, never expecting that one of the frightening stories will come true.

The great thing is.. in every situation.. everything works out and usually Tacky becomes even more loved or at least more tolerated.

I wish I had known of Tacky when I was a bit younger.  Now that I am closer to 50 than to 40, my eccentricities (craziness), clumsiness and social awkwardness seem to be a little more accepted by others or maybe just more accepted by myself.  I personally wish there were more Tacky’s in the world.  Actually, the more I think about it, the more I think there are.

Be yourself, don’t take anyone’s shit, and never let them take you alive.

 Gerard Way 

“Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Albert Einstein

I have a confession to make…

Caffeine consumption has become a daily ritual and addiction for many people. Caffeine exists in coffee, soda, tea, chocolate, and energy drinks. Five common withdrawal systems are headache, fatigue or drowsiness, depression or irritability, difficulty in concentrating, and flu like systems including nausea, muscle pain, and stiffness.

Caffeine is my shepherd; I shall not doze.
It maketh me to wake in green pastures:
It leadeth me beyond the sleeping masses.
It restoreth my buzz:
It leadeth me in the paths of consciousness for its name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of addiction,
I will fear no Equal:
For thou art with me; thy cream and thy sugar they comfort me.
Thou preparest a carafe before me in the presence of The Starbucks:
Thou anointest my day with pep; my mug runneth over.
Surely richness and taste shall follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the House of Mochas forever.
~Author Unknown

I’m an addict.  Pure and simple.

There is almost nothing I won’t do for a good, hot, strong, flavorful, beautiful cup of coffee in the morning.  I actually feel angry when I can’t obtain my one main desire.

Coffee: because sleep is for the weak;  Yes, I will die without coffee; Coffee: All the Cool kids are doing it; Hand over the Coffee and no one gets hurt!

As I’m sure you can recall from my Simple Cup ‘o Joe post, I love coffee.  No I need coffee.  I don’t have a lot of hobbies and have virtually no addictions.  So I think loving coffee this much is ok.  Several years ago when I took a short trip with my dad, he would get so annoyed because at the beginning of every day, like an addict, I would hound him and gear him towards any establishment that appeared to offer a nice strong bold cup.  On our most recent trip from Washington to Wyoming and Colorado, I realized that dad finally “got me”.  He would go out of his way to drive to a Starbucks or some other high potency joint that doled out the black tar that has fed my soul for so long.  It was a trip of awakenings and bonding between the two of us.  His newfound understanding of me did however extend our drive by at least 4 hours.

You also read in that post about the extremes I will go to just for that really good cup.  I will accomplish death defying acts to obtain a kilo or 3.  I think I adequately demonstrated how dangerous and difficult it was to maneuver from my safe abode to the local coffee mill.  I also completely laid out how heart-breaking it can be to go to such extremes and suffer the often disappointing result of such effort.

So I’m sure you can only imagine my huge dismay when, after the electricity returned, I brewed my first bold cup and there was NO flavor.  It was boring, dull and un-fullfilling. I was despondent for days.  I tried pot after pot of coffee.  I used different measuring techniques and finally resorted to adding a spoonful of “Instant” coffee just to give it some flavor. Yeah, you heard me…INSTANT COFFEE!!

Nescafe no es cafe. (Instant coffee is not coffee.)

~Mexican saying

Any true coffee addict knows that instant coffee is a sacrilegious act that should NEVER be resorted to unless in extreme and by extreme I mean dire situations. (Yes, I do realize that extreme and dire mean the same thing and I was simply being redundant to make a point.)

I started babbling incoherent quotes like the following:

Coffee is real good when you drink it it gives you time to think. It’s a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening. Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself. It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup.~Gertrude Stein

The discovery of coffee has enlarged the realm of illusion and given more promise to hope.~Isidore Bourdon

Even upon re-reading the above quotes, I do not understand what they mean.  Soooo anyways, this past weekend I took the plunge again and headed off towards my favorite brew hub.  I had friends with me this time, if necessary, to back up my claim of crap coffee.  I chickened out at the last minute.  Given my negative ability to communicate completely in a 2nd language I felt it was not worth the effort and might only exacerbate future coffee buying expeditions.

On our way home we planned to stop at the open market for cheese, fruits and vegetables. Near the open market is a Turkish shop that sells Turkish things.  The one Turkish thing that it sells that you cannot find in any other store in Caracas is Turkish coffee.  If you have never had Turkish coffee and you are a coffee lover you should try it.  It’s dEEE-Vine!!  It’s divine in so many ways.  How you drink the coffee is really as important as how you prepare it, so I am going to give you a link that explains this most important act. TURKISH COFFEE

Typical turkish Coffee presentation

However, it’s never open, and when I say never I mean NEVER when I drive by it.  I didn’t expect it to be open on this day as well.  The coffee Gods were smiling down on me on this magical day because.. it was open.  I went inside expecting the store to be completely out of Turkish coffee as it often is. Again, good fortune was on my side because they had it.  Not only did they have Turkish Coffee, they had several bags of Turkish coffee.  I decided not to tempt fate and did the only logical thing I could think of.  I bought all but 2 containers of their coffee.

Each of these tiny containers of Turkish coffee ran about $12-20 each and I bought about 6 of them.  As I am sure you remember from my last coffee post I have trouble computing size vs. cost in Venezuela, so don’t quote me on the price. Needless to say it was a pretty expensive trip.  But can I say SOOOO worth it.  I’m not sure if you can see the writing on the bottom of this container but the coffee I bought has cardamom in it.  So it was a double score for me.  The original is good but with cardamom.. even better.

So I took my treasures home, cut my kilos with the Najjar coffee and this morning.. pure heaven.  Yes, it took 2 trips, 5 near death road crossings, the triangle of death, possibly hundreds of dollars spent and the use of my extreme Spanish/Turkish negotiating skills to confiscate from a store almost their entire stash of the black gold….and finally (POR FIN) I have achieved my goal.  A good cup ‘o joe.

A few good take-aways from these last two incidents:  1.  I now know exactly how much 3 kilos of coffee is and how long they will take me to consume.  2.  Always carry extra cash on the chance you will happen by a store that is open and carries the exact or close to exact item you want.  3.  Never give up.

Related Articles:

The Coffee Nation (CNBC TV);  Coffee Fuss (CBCNEWS – Health);          Coffee Habits (Healthy as a Horse)

Astrology Oh Wait.. Astronomy Class

It was 1997, I think and I needed one more science class to get into my chosen 4 year University program.  I was working and so I had no time to attend a daytime class.  I ended up choosing an online Astronomy class that would meet once a week to discuss the online portion of the class.  It was actually very interesting.

One day the professor starts asking us to raise our hand if we were Gemini, hands went up; raise our hand if we were Pisces, Taurus and so on.  Directly after getting us to firmly commit to our astrological sign he informs us that we really probably are not what we thought we were.  Apparently, astrological signs were made up many, many moons ago.. long, long ago in a far away place or time..

He then went into a very long story about how we could be a sign before or after our actual sign.. and on and on and on and actually I sort of lost interest in the topic because I started imagining my entire life over based on any of the other signs out there.. I’m a ram and sometimes we get a bad rap and a lot of 2 star days to top it off.  Doesn’t seem right.  Not fair at all.  I could be a lion or a fish.. ohhh a scorpio even.  How different might my life have been.

This knowledge did in fact change my life.  Every time I would read the paper and get to the Horoscope page I would of course read my horoscope.  However, I would also read at least the sign in front of and behind my sign.  I would then try to figure out which sign was having a better day or seemed to fit my lifestyle more than my own sign.

Finally I gave up.  No I did not stop reading horoscopes.. I just gave up trying to fit into any one sign.  I now pretty much just pick a five star day and go for it. Seriously, I often do not understand exactly what the horoscope is trying to tell me anyways.   Why not choose a 5 star day every day. Yeah.  Life is good.

As an example of what I am talking about I am submitting my last couple horoscopes.  Really, Does anyone know what they mean? First one I kind of love but the 2nd one don’t get at all. Possibly it’s time to move on to a new sign.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The astrological omens suggest that you now have a lot in common with the legendary Most Interesting Man in the World — adventurous, unpredictable, interesting, lucky, one-of-a-kind. To create your horoscope, I have therefore borrowed a few selected details from his ad campaign’s descriptions of him. Here we go: In the coming weeks, you will be the life of parties you don’t even attend. Astronauts  will be able to see your charisma from outer space. Up to one-third of your body weight will be gravitas. Your cell phone will always have good reception, even in a subway 100 feet underground. Panhandlers will give you money. You could challenge your reflection to a staring contest — and win. You’ll be able to keep one eye on the past while looking into the future. When you sneeze, God will say “God bless you.”

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Apollo astronaut Russell Schweickart had a vision of loveliness while flying through outer space in his lunar module. “One of the most beautiful sights is a urine dump at sunset,” he testified. He said it resembles a “spray of sparklers,” as ten million little ice crystals shoot out into the void at high velocity. As you feed your quest for a lusty life, Aries, I urge you to be as quirky and resourceful as Schweickart. Come up with your own definitions about what’s gorgeous and revelatory. Take epiphanies any way you can get them.

Auspicious beginnings Anonymous blogging

I have hesitated starting a blog only because if I don’t even find myself that interesting to listen to.. what would I have to say to others? However, I wanted to find a way to share my adventures and so I sort of made a quasi-agreement with a friend to edit all of my blog entries.. or actually to write them for me under my name.

The agreement went that I would send details of what was actually transpiring in my life to him and he would write my blog for me.

What follows was my letter of offer to him to write my blog and what it would mean for me.  This email wasn’t actually meant to be a blog.. but I think it’s as good a way to start as any. Mind you it’s not about my travels thus far.. but about my blogging quandary. Here goes..

My near actual proposal email to my friend –

Dear Friend,

So I know that we’ve talked about you writing my blog for me.  You have seemed open to the idea so I want to give you more information about why it would be good for me to have you absolutely sign a contract agreeing to write my blog.  You would be me.  I would only provide you with some minute details into my life and adventures and you would do with it as you will.

Let me give you an example.  I have a friend. She used to be my Japanese exchange student when she was 15/16. We’ve kept in touch over the years. She has visited me in Washington (the real one), I have visited her in NY and she is in fact in DC now. Over the years I have been trying to find easier ways to stay in contact, share pictures and so on.

 Then came along Facebook. She hates FB and has refused time and time again to get on it for many reasons.. but mainly she just thinks it’s a waste of time. However, over the past several months I have convinced her (quasi-bullied her) into allowing me to set her up an account and only she and my daughters would be friends. It was the perfect plan. I set it up and she’s now on .. hidden from everyone else.

What I neglected to understand is that anyone who is my friend or my daughter’s friends might also see her. In less than 4 days she’s had over 7 friend requests. I have rashly accepted some of them.. sort of with her permission. Actually she never gave permission but I’ve had complete transparency with her and she has laughed about it. She has still not managed to sign on. Feeling bad for her new friends and not wanting them to think she is ignoring them, I’ve sent short, uncomplicated and non-committal responses claiming I don’t understand the system and am still trying to work things out.

This has caused several ever-helpful friends and family to send messages assisting her in figuring it out. She laughs.. but still does not sign on. I’m developing a tremendous sense of guilt (not really.. but I feel I should be).. I can’t come clean with the people.. now her FB friends.. but I hesitate deleting her account because truthfully her friends are really my friends. It’s a farce.. but it’s becoming ever more interesting.

Which brings me to you blogging for me.. it’s complicated.. admittedly fun.. but possibly dangerous..

In my situation, I can’t decide if I should keep responding as her and just sending all events related to her page to her in updates through email.. or if I should stop.. by the way as of today she has 8 more friend requests. This is in less than 2 weeks.

This brings me to another point. Through her FB I think I have doubled my ability to be charming and likable. I’m practically becoming Japanese which is causing me to think more diplomatically and be more polite and kind.

This takes me back to your blogging for me as me. If you do in fact blog for me, I think I can be substantially more intelligent, diplomatic, and possibly funnier, which makes me wonder if I stand in for others more often and have others stand in for me more often…. will I in fact be a better person? Just things to think about before we sign a contract..


As you can tell at this point, he didn’t take me up on my offer.  This was a year ago.  I am now attempting on my own to write for you about myself, as myself.  I guarantee I will not be as interesting, introspective or have the ability to offer insights into anything related to your life.  But it’s going to be all me, all the time.

I hope you enjoy.