The GGA Project -- Day #171 "Imagine Yourself...zzzzzz"

Though I'd put this post's placeholder up, I'm actually writing this the next day, since

Today's New Activity: Guided Meditation

ended up putting me to sleep less than 5 minutes in.  I waited until I was ready to go to sleep, so that I could be in my quiet room without any distractions.  But apparently I was a little *too* ready to sleep.  It's pretty much always the case that I fall asleep when my head hits the pillow, so I should have known better...but somehow I thought maybe I'd be so into it it would keep me wired.

Yeah right.

So then I tried to listen to it again this morning, but 30 seconds into it Monkey woke up, looked at my phone sitting on the bed (I'd downloaded the meditation onto my phone), handed it to me with the word(s) "Theyougo," followed by "Gaga."  This meant he wanted me to play a Lady Gaga song for him to sing to.  I was so taken aback by this sudden and very clear communication of a desire (I swear this week he crossed some kind of threshold and is spouting out new words all the time and saying things I can actually understand.  It's AMAZING!!), I forgot all about the meditation, which would have been a bust at that point anyway.

The meditation will be there for another time.  I suppose the real new eye opening for the day comes in the form of realization: that my baby is growing up; that he is a full-fledged human being with wants and preferences and music running through his little veins; that he will soon be speaking in mini-sentences and repeating things he hears me say whether I want him to or not (better keep a close eye on that!); that he will only get bigger and faster and smarter and make me pause in wonder more often.  I know this is the stuff all parents go through--the good and the bad of it, the proud and the sad of it.  But it's all new to me.  I'm so grateful, everyday, for the love and the joy and the renewed sense of awe my son has brought to my life.


The GGA Project -- Day #170 "Un-Party"

After a weekend of celebration, I was ready to kick in for today and just take care of business!  I'm sure other parents out there can relate to the idea that it's really difficult to get things done when you work and you have children.  Despite all my best intentions to take care of things as they come up and keep a neat working area for all my crap, it never happens.  What I need is a full day to just get to it, head bent to the task.

And though there were Memorial Day festivities happening and I could have gone any old place in the bay today, I chose to spend it at home, catching up.  And while I can't say I've NEVER taken a similar day in my life, it's been a long long long long time since I engaged in anything that resembled

Today's New Activity: Super Spring Cleaning

Okay, Super is an exaggeration for sure, but I did manage to get through a mondo stack of reading/magazine clippings I'd let pile up for 2 months, cleaned the bathroom and vacuumed the floors and...drumroll....vacuumed my CAR!!

It's ridiculous to admit it here, but I really and truly think this may have been the first time I have ever vacuumed my car.  I always wanted to do so, but I never had one of those small vacuums that makes it easy. I went to the car wash regularly enough (and by regularly enough I mean once or twice per year or so--about on par with my haircut schedule), so they took care of it there, but it's been months since I did that, so a thin layer of particles of who knows what had gathered on the floor of my car.  Today I could look at it no more.

After all that I took care of some bills, organized my desk and did a little touch up on my closet.

By the time I had to leave to pick up Monkey I was feeling thoroughly refreshed and able to concentrate again.  I want to start new projects, and it's impossible to do without a clear mind, which for me is impossible to do without a clear work space and space in general...I feel like it's a reflection of my state of mind.

Which, at the moment, is very healthy and happy.  How nice to inhabit that space both physically and mentally now :)


The GGA Project -- Day #169 "Chinese for Celebrate"

And who in the world could resist a celebration of this little guy?!

I can't.  So when my friends and new (second-time) parents Sharon and Rodrigo invited me to celebrate Calvin's arrival, I accepted.

Today's New Activity: Red Egg Party!

I'd never heard of a Red Egg Party, but it's a Chinese tradition that celebrates the one-month mark of a new baby's life.  I love the idea, because a baby shower happens before anybody gets to meet a new arriver, and the 1st birthday seems too long a time to wait to really celebrate a new life.  The first couple of weeks or so of a baby's arrival can be a little stressful--the adjustment period--but having a party one month into the whole thing seems perfect!

Oh my god, look at that feast!  All the food (except for the chow mein) was prepared by Rodrigo's parents, who used to own a restaurant and know all about making vast amounts of yummy food.

It was interesting to be among the invited guests at a party that was comprised entirely (with the exceptions of Sharon and I) of Portuguese-speaking Chinese folks.  Rodrigo's family has a fascinating history.  His parents were born in Mozambique, which was a Portuguese colony at the time.  Then, when civil war broke out, they relocated to Brazil, which is where Rodrigo was born and lived until they moved to Portugal.  Ultimately they ended up in the Bay Area, California, which somehow attracted a great many people from the same town in Mozambique.  Sharon told me that Rodrigo's parents had known a lot of the party guests since childhood.  I just love stories like that.

Anyway, we sat talking and catching up.  Sharon and Rodrigo just bought a house, so they have double the cause for congratulations.  Also, their older son Oliver is the happiest, spunkiest little guy, so it was just all around wonderful to spend the afternoon with this family.

Also, I just love spending time with Sharon and Rodrigo because they are refreshingly laid-back parents.  They, of course, take great care of their children, but they don't take the whole thing too seriously.  They have good senses of humor about themselves as parents and about their children.  You never feel like they are trying to compare or one up or emanate the idea of parental perfection.  It's purely enjoyable and relaxing to hang out with them.

Congratulations to Mama, Dadi-o, and big brother Oliver on your super cute new hang-out buddy.


The GGA Project -- Day #168 "Sitting In"

After work today I swung by Nicole's house to pick up Raul.  I'd been wanting to pick his brain about some things I know nothing about but would like to, and he was generous enough with his time to agree to it.  We ended up going to his favorite haunt, one of the most successful independent-like (it's not a giant company, but there are 8 locations now--so they're growing) coffeehouse stories in San Jose.

Today's New Activity: The Philz Experience

I know I'd stopped in at Philz once before, but it was just to buy a cup of milk for The Monkey.  This was the first time I'd actually ordered coffee.  And I didn't think anything about coffee could make an impression on me at this point, but today's experience truly did.

I was a little confused at first by the ordering process.  You order directly from the barista, which wouldn't really be that confusing expect that a bunch of people are just kind of standing around the bar and it's difficult to discern if there's a line, who's already ordered, or where your place is in the scheme of things.  Luckily the barista was used to sorting through the mess and seemed to have a good idea of who'd arrived when.

I ordered black tea with cream and honey for Raul (first time I've ever been to a place where the barista adds these fixings during the preparation), and an Americano for myself.  He said that they don't make Americanos there but that he'd happily make a coffee for me.  I didn't quite get at first how he was going to make a coffee just for me--just one cup of coffee, but after asking me a lot of questions to get to the bottom of what exactly I wanted, he said he'd do just that.  This was great!  The only reason I ever order Americanos (which I usually do any time after about 11am) is that most places stop brewing coffee very often once the morning rush is over, and I can't stand old, bitter coffee.  But it's definitely a trade off.  Americanos aren't nearly as strong or flavorful as brewed coffee.  And plus you have to wait 45 minutes for them to have cooled down enough to be drinkable.

So it turns out all cups of coffee are brewed to order there, and I have to say the difference was evident.  Drinking that fresh and super flavorful cup made me wish there was a Philz near me.  And apparently the feeling is mutual.  I looked the place up on Yelp: the reviews, given the high volume of reviewers, average out to the best I've ever seen I think.  418 reviews at the time I'm writing this and 4 1/2 stars.  That's pretty amazing.  I read a lot about their flavored drinks, but I'm giving them a rave review of my own on black coffee alone.

I also really liked the atmosphere--the multiple couches reminded me of the coffee shops I remember as a teenager, before they all got homogenized.  Also, the Fanime Con convention was going on downtown, leaving the area teeming with kids dressed up as all manner of Anime, comic book and just general character.  At one point, Raul exclaimed "Jesus Christ!"  I turned around, thinking he was commenting on the pouring down rain that had just started.  What a surprise to see Jesus Christ!  Or a really good, costumed version of the illustrated Bible versions I've seen of him anyway.  The whole thing made for some great people watching.

And that is all.


The GGA Project -- Day #167 "Potentially Food-Poisoned Extravaganza"

When I got to work yesterday I was informed that we'd be having a potluck (!) today.  This was unfortunate since I'd gone grocery shopping just the day previous without an inkling that I'd need to whip up some dish to feed the branch.  And not only that: there were stipulations.

Since I wouldn't have time to go grocery shopping after work yesterday (okay, technically I'd have time, but I wouldn't have the desire), I thought I could just raid the cupboard of ingredients I'd bought with earlier baking intentions.

"I'll bring cookies," I said.

"No!" my boss said.  "No cookies!"

"What?"  I asked.  "What do you mean no cookies?"

"No cookies!  You have to bring real food, and it has to be ethnic food."  He even wrote NO! next to the line on the sign-up sheet where I'd written cookies.

First of all, the idea of "ethnic food" is funny in itself.  Everybody had volunteered to bring dishes native to their own cultures.  My coworkers consist of 3 Afghanis, 2 Vietnamese, 1 Chinese, 1 Nicaraguan, 1 Laotian, and me.  Dishes from these cultures would--to Americans--be considered "ethnic," but to their makers and eaters, they're just food.  And the statement seemed especially funny coming from him, one of the Vietnamese people.

Anyway, I asked why, if my cookies were vetoed, ______ was allowed to bring almond cake.  He said it was because almond cake is expensive.  My offer to bring lobster cookies to meet the expensive criteria was denied.

So it was I came to be waking up at 6am to make flautas, which would be totally rumpled and soggy by lunch time today.

Today's New Activity: Workplace Potluck

It's amazing that in my 18 years of working outside the home, I've never had the opportunity to opt in or out of a work potluck.  I didn't mind missing out on the chance because I feel like they're kind of a strange concept.  They're not strange in general.  I can totally see a potluck for an afternoon BBQ or a big family dinner.  But work potlucks are strange.  One has to either make something the night before that will last and be good reheated the next day, wake up super early to make something that stands a chance of keeping until noon, or buy something midday and bring it in, which to me kind of defeats the purpose of potluck--I like the idea mostly because of the promise of sampling other people's recipes.  

What's more, piles of food sitting out getting room-temperatured for hours seems like a disaster waiting to happen.  The Health Department would say so anyway.

As it turned out, I should have just bought and brought, since that's what all but one other person ended up doing (he'd spent the evening making cream cheese and crab wontons....dang!).  It turned out to be utter fried food overload.  Ridiculous amounts of heavy, greasy food were consumed.  And still there was enough food leftover to feed us all for three more days.

One thing that makes potlucks less than appealing to me is that almost everybody elects to bring meat dishes. The wonton maker had thoughtfully prepared some cream cheese-only wontons for a coworker who doesn't like seafood and me, but the rest of it was a big ole meat fest.  And though I'm usually loathe to proselytize on the merits of vegetarianism, the whole meaty potluck thing really gives me pause and causes me to question why it is we feel the need to eat so much meat in this country.  Many people really and truly feel that a meal just isn't a meal unless it involves some amount of dead animal on the plate.  This is crazy when one stops to consider the substantial effort it used to take to kill, cure, store, and prepare meat.

I read this week that Mark Zuckerberg, in an attempt to more fully understand and appreciate the concept of sustainable farming, has elected to only eat meat that he himself kills for the duration of a year.  People love to hate on Mark Zuckerberg, but I really appreciate this effort.  He says he's eating a largely vegetarian diet as a result, and I feel like everybody would if they took the time to fully know what it takes to raise/produce meat for food.  And while I'm not going to try and convince anybody to go vegetarian, I do think that almost everybody around could stand to consume less of it.  I, however, could stand to consume less starch and fat, and fewer carbs.  So nyeh.

I really need to start thinking more about what I eat.  I don't eat nearly enough fruits or vegetables, and lately I haven't been taking the time to cook respectable meals.  I had this in mind when I went grocery shopping the other day.  For the first time in a while, I shopped for actual meals, which I can prepare in large batches and eat for lunch.  I always feel better the fewer preservatives and less fast-ish food I consume, and it's time to get back to that.  Kinda got off the topic of potluck here, but it's ok.  I'm just saying that next time one is planned, I'll bring something that I and everybody else stands a chance of digesting.


The GGA Project -- Day #166 "Down by the Crick'"

Two weeks ago or so, as I roamed the greater southern Fremont region at lunchtime, I happened to notice a shady knoll by some kind of drainage-like creek.  I promptly filed it away as a spot to revisit another day.  A day like today!  It was beautiful outside when I went to lunch...about 67 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.

I parked the car right by the grass, took my shoes and socks off, rolled up my pants and sat down on the grass to absorb some sunshine.  Last year when I went for a physical and got my blood work done, I was found to be pretty deficient in Vitamin D.  Not gonna let a summer roll by with a repeat of the same, if (or, since) I can help it.

Today's New Activity: Lunch Time Mini-Oasis

I'd brought with me a magazine and had about 25 minutes of pure, uninterrupted time to myself.  What a joy. 

And that's all for today :)


The GGA Project -- Day #165 "Threesome"

So in keeping with my family's stretch-your-birthday-into-a-weeklong-event tradition, tonight I was treated to dinner by my dear friends Nicole and Raul.  Since I am WAY over driving these days, Nicole was kind enough to drive up and meet me in Palo Alto after I dropped off Monkey, and Raul walked to the restaurant from the Caltrain station on his way home from work in San Francisco.  It was a good plan.

Since of course I wanted to try a new restaurant, I'd spent part of the afternoon reading Yelp reviews.  A word on that: I would never base all or even some of my decisions on reviews...any kind of reviews.  But Yelp can be helpful in so many ways.  You can find all the restaurant within a walking mile, sort them by type of cuisine, find links to their menus, discover their hours of operation and price ranges, and, yes, know before heading there whether or not the universal consensus is that they suck.

The other day my coworker asked me if I was "one of those people who write Yelp reviews."  He said he asked this based on the fact that whenever we have conversations about places to go, I cover all the major categories, including ease of parking, without his having to ask.  I was reminded of that this afternoon as I asked my brother 80 follow-up questions over the phone after he told me they just opened a Gray's Papaya down the street from his place and he'd gone there this afternoon for his first taste of NY dog (er, hot dog).  I guess, in a way, I do take something of a Yelper approach to dine out decisions these days.  I would hate it if the pre-informing kept me from trying something new and great, but I do feel like certain information is helpful to have before setting out. And while sometimes people can be overly harsh or demanding in their reviewing, I do find it to be the case that if--in over 100 reviews--the average rating for a restaurant is 3 stars or fewer, there are likely better options out there.

Which brings me to

Today's New Activity: Squished Together Dining at Osteria

Osteria is an Italian restaurant just one block off University Avenue in Palo Alto.  I didn't even read the reviews, just found their menus on a take out website and decided, based on one Yelp photo, that it would work.  When we got there I found it to be much smaller and the seating much more intimate than I'd expected.  But I kind of like that feel...for some reason that is how I picture restaurants in Little Italy, in New York to be.  Why do we need all sorts of space, anyway?

Raul had arrived some time before Nicole and I, so luckily when the host--who seemed a bit stressed and overwhelmed by the number of people waiting for tables (as was I on a random Wednesday evening--saw that the third part of Raul's party had arrived, he sat us right away.

This is definitely one of those places where the servers/host think it's so great, or their own tastes so refined, they have the right to attitude.  We saw the host sternly deny an elderly woman a table since her husband was still parking the car, and our own server, who did nothing to project a hint of friendliness, made it clear that Raul's Scampi Mediterranean choice was the only of the three of which he approved.  No matter...I wasn't there to have dinner with the host or our server.

I chose the Linguine al Pesto, which was excellent.

It was such a great experience to be out with these two, totally out-of-context.  For 10 years now I've been used to being out with them in or near downtown San Jose, and it's been a really long time since I've been out with them at all, especially without children, at a real grown-up restaurant.

My seat was facing the window, and as I watched all the other grownups walk by, and later, as we walked and passed by all the other packed-full restaurants on University Avenue, I daydreamed about how nice it would be to have the means to dine at all the nice restaurants, whenever I wanted.  The people inside looked vibrant, full of energy, bustling at (by then) 9pm on a Wednesday.  Or maybe that was my own projection.  And if so, I'll take it...it means that is inside me somewhere.

As I've mentioned here before, Nicole and Raul have been two steady and dependable constants in my life through a good share of ups and downs.  This year marked the 20th year of my friendship with Nicole (she was at the surprise 13th birthday party a friend through for me in the 8th grade!), and it just gets better as the time passes.

After dinner we ended up at Starbucks where we fell into a familiar pattern (by the way, I love how the word "familiar" finds its roots in "family"), Raul working on his laptop while Nicole and I talk Mommihood and friendship and new ideas and old flashbacks.  This time she was re-telling (by my request) the story of the customer who loved her when she worked at Starbucks (her first job when we moved to San Jose).  It's a wonder and a triumph of enduring friendship that I heard something new in that story this time around.

I consider it an absolute blessing, the fact that I'm sure to spend at least the next 33 years trading stories, new and recycled, with these true friends  :)


The GGA Project -- Day #164 "Small Box'"

Have I complained about...er, mentioned before that I don't have a lot of free time these days for new stuff?  My lunch hours have become fertile ground for stolen GGA moments.

Every day one of five people who work at a local bookstore comes to the bank to make a deposit and get change.  Though I've worked at this branch for 2 months and pass by the sign almost every day, I'd yet to actually locate the bookstore itself.  The shopping center I work in is kind of strange.  It isn't near any residences at all, so I'm not even sure how people find and support the local stores...especially the hidden ones.  Today as I drove around looking for the bookstore, I found a little patch of 4 or 5 Korean restaurants, way far off the main street, tucked behind a car dealership.  How in the world are they all in business?

Anyway, I finally located the store in question and headed inside for 

Today's New Activity: Lunch Time at Half-Price Books

For some reason I was picturing a very small operation, like a little one-horse deal, one main front desk piled high with books and stacks of paper, and a single employee at a time perched on a stool behind those stacks, reading.  But Half-Price Books was a full-fledged bookstore, complete with a stationary section and a kids corner called "half-pint books" which I'd like to think is a reference to Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods series.

Nothing jumped off the shelves that I couldn't live without, but the below title did catch my eye.

First of all, I have to wonder if the entire concept of this diet is given away with the title/subtitle.  How much book do you need to explain to people, "hey, eat a bunch before 9am and then take it easy after that?"  What I LOVE, is the idea that the diet asks that you eat big before 9am and then just eat normal after that.  Now that would be a diet I could stick to!

Nothing terribly interesting happened at the bookstore, but I was glad to have found it and to know it's there. I like the idea of being transported to a world of prose- and poetry-related possibility during my one hour of mid-day freedom :)


The GGA Project -- Day #163 "Act 3: The Lesson"

Well I've had a wonderful birthday weekend (I love that, stretching your birthday out into an entire weekend or week.  We used to tease my grandpa that he could somehow make his birthday last a whole month).  Today I had to face the music and return to work.  We are thoroughly understaffed, so there was no chance of getting the day off, but it was ok.

Actually, it was very sobering.

Today's New Activity: Birthday Perspective

Today was the first day back to work for a coworker who'd been on family leave.  During that time (the day after Mother's Day), this young woman's mother passed away after having spent the past year in and out of the hospital.  As unpleasant as it was to spend 9 hours at my job on my birthday, that unpleasantness paled in comparison to what my coworker was going through...the new reality she'd be coming to terms with, bit by bit, for some time to come no doubt.  The brevity of life message rang loud and clear to me on this day.

My coworker was doing fairly well, considering, but I know she's probably still somewhat in shock.  Also, she still has family in town, which is helping her feel connected and keeping her from ruminating on her loss (she shared this).  She is bound to have some very rough moments in the days and months and years to come.  I wish I knew her just a little bit better so that I felt I could have more to offer in friendship, but listening to somebody talk through these stages is certainly a way to get to know a person.  It can be difficult to know how to talk with people who've just lost a love one.  It can feel like a tainted, dirty secret of a subject, and it can feel like bringing it up with the mourning, emotionally fragile survivor might make something break.  But in my experience, just to have the chance to talk and know that there's a person out there who can bear to hear it can be a relief.  Sometimes it's EASIER to talk to quasi-strangers who are far enough from the situation themselves, emotionally.

Listening to my coworker (I'll call her Miriam) talk, watching her eyes well up with tears, I couldn't help but get emotional myself.  I was trying to fathom what it would be like to lose somebody as close as your mother and this point in life (she's my age or even a little younger).  And I hate to wax sentimental on my birthday (so trite), I have to say it gave me the perspective that one always hopes to have gained in the course of experiencing another year of life.  I'd say it was a beautiful gift.

to be continued...


The GGA Project -- Day #162 "The Standoff"

Today was all the way around beautiful.  Monkey and I both woke up in good spirits, excited to go to his friend Sureya's birthday party.  Ok, so maybe he wasn't excited for that, given that he had no idea we were going, but he was in good spirits anyway.

We got a slowish start on account of it being Sunday and because my days off are so rare this month, I wanted to sort of slow down and take it in rather than rush us off somewhere.  By the time we got to the party down in San Jose, the sun was almost all the way out, the food was in full swing, and the shoots-from-the-ground water fixture at the park was turned on and soaking kids left and right.

The kids played a while at the playground and in the sandbox before being rounded up for cake and presents.  At the age of these kids (and probably for the next 6 years or so) it's difficult to watch somebody open presents without wanting to play with them, but I was impressed with how polite all the kids in attendance were.  Sureya was able to open up everything in peace and without anybody or anything getting trampled.

After a few hours in the sun and with all the running around, Monkey was ready for a nap.  We took leave of our fellow partiers and were about to head out when I heard the magical childhood sound of "La Cucaracha" busting out over a tinny, scratchy loud speaker.  Which, by the way, I have to wonder about the wisdom of selling food out of a vehicle whose speaker is blasting a song about a cockroach...

Today's New Activity: Adult Re-Living of/Monkey Introduction to the Magic of the Ice Cream Truck

My boy sat patiently (easy since he had no idea what this truck was capable of) while I perused the options.  By the time I as a child was old enough to remember and run after ice cream trucks, I wasn't really interested in ice cream or popsicles.  My friends and I wanted things like Big League Chew or bubble gum cigarettes (man times have changed...what WAS up with all the tobacco-related kiddie treats back then?!), or any kind of liquid candy.  Ugh.  The thought of that now turns my stomach, but somehow kids' stomachs are built not only to withstand things like liquid candy, they seem to need it once in a while as inspiration to live.

Anyway, Monkey's too young for any of that.  We went for a Pink Panther Pop...still around--I couldn't believe it.  He made it through about one ear's worth before slowing down so much the entire thing was melty and liable to plop into his lap at any moment.   I wanted at the red eyeball for myself, but when I bit into it in practically disintegrated in my mouth.  All of a sudden I couldn't remember if the eyeballs were made of candy or gum.  Then I realized it tasted like gum but was just so thoroughly changed by having been frozen it was unrecognizable as such.  So gross.  I seriously don't know how we ever survived/enjoyed eating this kind of thing.

Anyway, we were about to leave for the second time when a second, louder, more professional looking ice cream truck started heading down the street toward the park.  Since the first ice cream truck's music was still going, I thought truck #2 would surely back off and count this park as spoken for, for the time being anyway. But no.  The truck pulled right into the parking lot, parked a little ways away from the first truck, and then turned its music UP, practically drowning out the music of truck #1.

It was the funniest thing.  I started to imagine that ice cream trucks have territory like surfers, and that truck #1 had interloped onto truck #2's established route.  Looking at the arrogant, "dare you to mess with me" posture of truck #2's driver as he sat blaring his music and staring at truck #1, it not only seemed to be the case, but I thought if I were truck #1, I wouldn't want to stick around and find out the consequences of this infraction.

And he didn't.  Truck #1 finished with his customer and was on his way, though there were dozens more kids in the park who might have come around eventually.  It's funny to think about the complex subcultures of different professions and trades.  I'm sure there are dozens of unwritten rules for ice cream truck etiquette that we, as the innocent, popsicle-lickin' public will never be aware of.

Experiencing the ice cream truck today for the first time since childhood reminded me that I hadn't noticed one really since I was a child myself and actually interested in what it had to offer.  It's funny how becoming a parent makes you all over again aware of the things you enjoyed as a child and eager to share them with your own offspring.  It'll probably be some time before Monkey is old enough to truly appreciate this rolling wonder (I mean really, how amazing is it that there are still people out there who LIVING is made by driving a truck around and peddling sweets to kids.  I love that, and I hope they are around for a long time), but it was fun introducing him to it today.

And just a quick, second first for the day...my parents took the baby and I out for dinner, and for the first time I got to hear my son sing "Happy Birthday" to me, even getting the word "Mama" in the appropriate place.  I think it was one of the best sounds I've ever heard :)


The GGA Project -- Day #161 "Clean Up"

Despite the fact that I put some seemingly very private things about my life out onto the great wide interweb for all to read, I do enjoy some privacy.  I am usually in the camp that thinks people who raise privacy concerns about things like Facebook are being kind of idiotic.  Everything about Facebook is self-regulated.  You don't even have to have a Facebook account, and plenty of people don't.  Even if you HAVE one, there are tons of ways to control your privacy, and if you can't figure out how to use them, maybe you shouldn't have a Facebook account.

Still, I've had some thoughts on privacy lately.  First of all, unlike a lot of my friends I have a bunch of family members as Facebook friends.  This means being on good behavior always...not a problem--I generally am on good behavior.  But that doesn't necessarily mean I want everyone I've seen fit to friend on Facebook to know everything last about me.  After all, me and plenty of people I know have somewhat "inappropriate" senses of humor at times, which certainly comes out now and then on Facebook.  And while there are plenty of ways to limit who sees what, I'd rather not have to censor.  I'd rather only have "friends" whom I actually consider friends, and who shouldn't be judging me anyway.  Similarly I'd also rather only do things I'm comfortable with everyone knowing.


Today's New Activity: Facebook Cleanse

First of all, I did change a few privacy settings, but that mostly had to do with long-ago-created photo albums.  What seemed more appealing to me, today, was to start taking a hard look at whom I call my "friends."

Now...I really love Facebook.  I do.  I love that I can be in contact with long lost friends and do some catching up.  But I hate that its simple existence has made the concept of friendship seem so complicated and confusing.  For a long time I've been wanting to do some friend list editing, but I didn't start because I was concerned I'd have a hard time discerning what a friend was.

This didn't used to be an issue.

I decided I would start with the easy stuff today.  Anybody among my friends whom I knew from high school but hadn't spoken to since (or since first adding as a friend) would be gone.  What is the point of just collecting people?  I admit I was curious, when my FB account was in its nascent stage, to see pictures of people from high school all grown up.  But once that initial thrill was gone I was hard pressed to come up with a reason to keep this collection of FORMER friends around.

For a long time I've been contemplating the idea of past.  It used to be that the people we knew in our past were just that.  We didn't have the option of revisiting and regurgitating that past in some kind of new, oddball incarnation.  We just had our memories and the lessons we learned from those events.

People who are now in high school will NEVER know what it is to be curious about an old high school flame or to think about people from their past as people from their past.  They'll just keep 'em around for the next 80 years, just part of the collection.

All that said, I'm grateful for the reconnecting that has led to actual, sustained reconnection.  There are some people I'm very happy to have back in my life and with whom I truly enjoy communicating.

But it was definitely time for some editing.  The high school distinction made this initial round easy, and even during that I came across some non-high school "friends" who were obvious candidates for deletion, so I made those executive decisions.  And some further revisiting is in order.  It would be nice to get to a point where privacy concerns aren't even an issue because anybody I know on Facebook knows the real me, up close and personally (even if from far away, paradoxical as that may seem) anyway.

Baby steps...

The GGA Project -- Day #160 "On Celebrating"

Damn!  Juuuuuust missed the cut-off time again...

Everybody likes birthdays, right?  Ok, of course not everybody does.  A lot of people seem to dread them, and I’ve definitely had a couple of sad-ish birthdays in my day. But by and large I like birthdays and I think most people do in varying degrees.

Some, like my Dad, love making big deals about their special days.  He will gladly tell everybody it’s his birthday, and if we go to a restaurant to celebrate he not only doesn’t mind being sung to by the servers (which I think a lot of people find at least somewhat mortifying), he'd probably be a little bummed if we didn't make sure it happened.

Then there are people who keep their birthdays a complete secret…they lie about it even.  They  either hate getting older or just hate the attention and would like best the chance to let the entire day slip silently by without anybody raising so much as an eyebrow, let alone a glass in celebration.

I fall somewhere in the middle.  While I certainly don’t dread birthdays (I actually like my age, don’t mind adding another year at all—not that it’d matter if I did), I also don’t usually draw attention to them either.  I don’t ask for the day off work or plan parties in my own honor.  And the thought of being sung to in the middle of a restaurant is pretty frightening.

But this year I felt somewhat different about my birthday.  I recognize that the past few years I’ve been on a steady path in an effort to deny who I was, or THAT I was.   Sometimes I can be kind of down with concept of denying one’s self.  As Buddhists would say, the insistence on false recognition of a "self" only leads to desire, which is certain to lead to suffering.  I think that’s true to some extent.

But I’m not a Buddhist.  And I see that the years I’ve spent denying who I was as I’d always known myself to be have led to suffering anyway.  I remember having a conversation with my Aunt on the phone last summer in which I told her I thought that if I got any smaller (figuratively, of course) I would just disappear.

So this year I felt like acknowledging my birthday and allowing room for the idea of simply celebrating me...and just because I managed to live another year.  I love celebrating other people’s birthdays.  Why not allow myself the same kind of yay?

Today's New Activity: Birthday Party, Mine

So I did have a party for my 25th birthday, but that was only because I happened to graduate from college that same day--and I guess I could say that I was in a similar state of mind in that moment, 8 years ago now.  I was contemplative but very very hopeful, proud of my accomplishment and absolutely sure that a beautiful life lie ahead of me.  Maybe you sort of have to be in that state of mind to throw yourself a party.

A couple of weeks ago I invited some friends to join me at The Saddlerack, a club I was first introduced to by my friends Denise and Christine just a few months back.  I knew it was kind of a gamble to choose that location since it's a good drive from where most of my friends live, plus there's a pretty steep cover charge, but there's a lot about the club I really liked, so I went for it.

The thing is, the weeks leading up to tonight were kind of stressful at times.  I would think about it and start worrying--what if nobody comes?  What if people come and nobody has fun?  And in past few days and even today itself a few people did let me know they wouldn't be able to make it, even though they'd originally said they could.  They had legitimate reasons, but I started to feel all kinds of self-conscious, wondering if there'd be anybody left to celebrate with.  By early yesterday morning I was almost, quite literally, in a cold sweat worrying about this shindig.  And I was very close to calling the whole thing off.


But there's was a part of me that new that was exactly the wrong thing to do at this point in my life.  It was exactly like the recent version of me--whom I didn't like much at all--to wanna shrink away and send out a loud (albeit unspoken) apology for just, I don't know, the simple act of having an expectation, a concept with so very many facets and incarnations.

I talked myself down off the wimpy ledge with this obvious thought: it will be wonderful and it will be fun, whoever decides to show up.

And, of course, it was.

I have never danced so much on my birthday (which is technically a few days from now) or been so completely sure that I was exactly where I was supposed to be at a given moment in time.  Or maybe, to be more clear, I have had that feeling before--but it was a spontaneous feeling, not one sprung from a sense of relief, as this one was.  I had a truly wonderful time and was grateful for the show of love.  And I resolve to never stress over a happy event like this again.

And for the record, I think there should be a mechanical bull at ALL birthdays from now until the end of time, even though I'm way too scared of being paralyzed to venture onto one myself   :)


The GGA Project -- Day #159 "New Friends"

These days I'm learning a lot about the concept of quality time vs. quantity time.  I've had to work a lot this month to cover for a coworker who took a family leave.  I'm very happy she'll be back next week, but the meantime has been rough.  I've been working closing shifts, which means getting off work just 1 hour before I would normally put the Monkey to sleep.  Then there's the business of actually getting home, which can be a craps shoot (obviously I always get there, it's just a question of when).

Anyway, since I still like to share a meal with my son and give him a bath most nights, he does end up staying up a little later than usual, but it's to me a woefully brief time period in which to catch up, play with, and generally enjoy the presence of my boy.

One ritual we've taken to is spending time in our room before lights out, just him and me snuggling, playing, and reading on my bed.  This 20-minute to hour-long period is by far the best part of most of my days.  It's when I get to hear all the new words he's picking up (and man they are coming on fast!), and be party to the cheeky little games he likes to play (like indicating he wants me to go to sleep only to shake me the moment I start fake snoring and then laugh hysterically at his having "woken me up").

I trip out on how quickly he's growing and learning.  He loves to sing, and he's adding new song all the time to his little repertoire.  Tonight we practiced singing "Happy Birthday" for his friend Sureya's party this coming Sunday.  Not only does he have a good memory for words (even if his little mushmouth doesn't always pronounce them so well), I'm amazed at his ear for the melody...and for a little guy I think his pitch is pretty impressive.

After read and sing time tonight, we were just kind of lounging when I decided the light was perfect for

Today's New Activity: Introduction to Shadow Buddies

I was pretty surprised by Monkey's gleeful reaction to his new friend on the wall, especially when I made it talk.  He kept looking back and forth between my hand and my shadow on the wall, and it's just fascinating watching his mind try to puzzle it out.  Before long he was approaching the shadow and holding his own tiny hands up, moving them around and saying "hi" in a voice of absolute splendor.

I don't remember even being big into make believe as a child.  I would have liked to have been, but I just didn't have the imagination for it.  When I see my son, still at the developmental stage where simple tricks, well, trick him, my hope is that he holds onto a sense of magic and make believe for a very long time.  He will have years and years of reality checks to contend with and process, but I hope his childhood progresses in such a way that he can remain carefree as long as possible.  I hope he isn't the worrier I was as a child. I hope he doesn't think about grownup things.  I hope I can shield him from anything that would make worry about my own well-being, or that of any other adult in his life (I've seen children who are clearly tapped into the emotions of their parents, trying to mitigate them from a young age...it's a sad and disturbing sight).

When my son goes to bed at night, my hope is that he is exhausted from his day of play and that his mind is aglow with pure possibility and pretend, that feels secure and happy, and that every night, as he drifts off to sleep, he knows that I love him more than anything else in the world.


The GGA Project -- Day #158 "Third & Final Step"

A couple of months back, I wrote about making mead (honey wine) with my friend Brian.  Then, some weeks later, I wrote about step #2 of the process, which was "racking" the wine (removing the sludge that had collected at the bottom).  Finally, today, I learned the final step of this particular wine-making process, which was....

Today's New Activity: Bottling Wine

With the fermentation process complete, it was time to get our concoction a permanent home (homes).  So we took it from these jugs

and used the vacuum device doohicky I described before to get it into bottles.  That part, though a little tricky, went pretty smoothly.

We took a moment to sample the wine, which in an individual glass was a beautiful shade of amber

To be honest, I wasn't as happy with the final outcome as I would have liked.  Brian had a previous version of mead he'd made, which I liked more than this because the taste of honey was very prominent (checking the diligent notes he'd taken 6 years ago when he made it, we learned there'd been 22 pounds of honey used in the making of that batch (!)).  The wine we made was a different take on that, and the recipe included maple and molasses.  Though I'd never tried a mead aside from the two I'd now tried at his house, I can say that, of the two, I definitely had a preference.  Still, it was smooth and novel and certainly worthy of bottling.

We only needed to employ some heavy duty assistance:

The mechanics of the device in the picture are pretty basic.  It's a corking device.  You place the bottle on the black plate, drop a cork in the hole up above, and put all your weight onto a lever that's just out of view, which simply jams the cork down into the bottle.  Brilliant!

It was mini-workout, getting the five large bottles and six small bottles we filled corked.  And look what a lovely collection they made:


The GGA Project -- Day #157 "I Could Get Used to This"

This morning I had a meeting with a contact whom a friend put me in touch with...it was a preliminary meeting about a project I want to work on.  I met this contact at his place of work, and upon my arrival the receptionist ushered me into a conference room that was like something out of a movie.  It was a large space with something of a view (we were on the 5th floor of an office building) and it had big cushy chairs and sleek-looking video conferencing equipment.  I arrived early, so I had about 10 minutes to myself in this room during which to think.

Today's New Activity: Conference Room Daydream

As I sat waiting for my meeting to start, I looked around the conference room and thought that I would like to spend more time in places like it.  Okay, I know a lot of people would read that and think I'm a lunatic.  People bring their laptops, their snacks and their coffee, their Blackberries and iPhones and whatever else they can sneak into conference rooms just to entertain and keep themselves from falling asleep during meetings.  I'm sure plenty of people would be overjoyed if they never spent another minute of their lives in a conference room.

But for me this conference room was more than just a conference room.  It represented something more, the act of dreaming of something more.  What appealed to me was the idea of sitting in a room filled with intelligent people, of brainstorming with them, and of finding challenge in my work.  It represented the idea of growth in an area of my life where I've never really pushed myself to grow.  It represented the thought of washing my hands of the retail and service industries and believing in my potential.

I must sound like Little Miss Broken Record, always ruminating on work as a concept, but it's heavy on my mind, what can I say?  Today I had the feeling that I could get used to having a place at a table like the one at which I was seated.  And for however long that would serve to help me grow in my life, I'd like to think I'd enjoy and make the most it.


The GGA Project -- Day #156 "Sun Salutation"

A college friend of mine used to get his work done in great, epic fits of energy lasting entire nights and into mid-morning the next day.  I'm not sure what combination of caffeine and possible other substances helped him achieve these feats of academic stamina, but I know he often mentioned--in the midst of such marathons--engaging in sessions of what he called "vigorous stretching."

The term was always funny to me because stretching seemed more like something to do in order to relax, not to get fired up.  But I'd seen him do this stretching before, and it was definitely more of an active, energy-boosting activity that a wind-down.  He would change stretching positions very quickly and do the whole routine with all kinds of excitement and urgency.  And even though I'd seen this routine, I still had a difficult time imagining how stretching in any form could be invigorating.

To me, stretching was just the boring and rotten part of P.E. (well, that and the running), and the part that I wasn't very good at.  I'd like to think it's extra long legs that prevents me from touching my toes, but if that's any part of it, it's a small part compared to the stiff, Frankengenes I inherited from my Dad.

Still, I've always wanted to try Yoga.  Seems like drillions of women out there swear by the practice (and I recognize that it's a well-developed practice with many schools rather that just a complex form of stretching), even ones who are in great shape and do nothing more than practice Yoga to get their exercise.  I did buy a prenatal Yoga DVD that I used during my pregnancy, but I'm pretty sure it was a super cautious, watered-down version of Yoga, so I didn't really count that.

Early on when I got my iPhone I downloaded a Yoga program, and there it sat getting lonely until I updated and employed it this evening:

Today's New Activity: Exploring iPhone Yoga app Programs

What I came to realize early on in both the "Sun Salutation for Wellness" and "Shakti Yoga: Stretching" programs is that the energizing aspect of Yoga comes through all the deep breathing, along with the simply feeling parts of your body you could easily forget about if it weren't for the fact that you were trying to touch them to each other or point them in all new directions.

On the first go round I wasn't very good at some of the poses.  Bending in half with my head pressed up against my legs (no bending at the knee) is just not something I can do.  I wish I could!  I just think that looks cool and somehow relaxing.  But I can't.

Still, I enjoyed the practice of going through the routines.  The programs have a narrator who tells you what to do next along with large and clear photos of a very normal-looking woman doing all the poses.  By normal, I mean that she doesn't look like some freakish Cirque du Soleil performer...just a regular woman who happens to be more bendy than me, for now anyway.

While I can't say I plan to run down and enroll in any Yoga classes at the moment, I'm glad to have finally shown that app the light of day and I will be doing a routine here or there.  It was a nice break in my evening routine and I actually had a hard time sleeping afterward because it did somehow fill me with energy.  Maybe I should be doing lunchtime Yoga to help me get a second wind during the long afternoon hours at work.  It'd be cheaper than the pearl tea I usually rely upon, and would have the opposite effect on my health...which is a good thing.


The GGA Project -- Day #155 "You Look Wonderful Tonight"

There are many things for which I give thanks for my time working at Barnes & Noble.  One of those things is the amazing, lasting friendships that have come from my off-and-on Bookseller years.  Though few of us still work there, many of us old school Booksellers have managed to keep in touch through major life changes.

Another thing I'm thankful to BN for is that it's the place where a few of the best couples I know met and fell in love.  I think two of those couples are on their way to the altar within a couple of years, two have already been married for years, and one tied the knot just today, in a beautiful, rain-free ceremony (which is significant because it was raining and even hailing at times just hours before the nuptials were set to take place), off of Skyline, overlooking the bay.

Colleen and Will met when she was the children's department Lead and he worked in the music department. Colleen, super outgoing and ever-friendly and gregarious, used to throw these great parties at her house near the store (which I was always shocked never attracted a noise warning from the neighbors) and pretty much everyone was invited.  Will was always a quiet attendee, fully there but not one to hog the spotlight.  Somehow, they noticed each other at some point and have been honies for about 6 years now.

I have been out of touch with Colleen until I ran into her at our mutual friend Brian's birthday party in January, but it's been great to catch up with her, and I was incredibly honored to have been invited to share in hers and Will's celebration.

Today's New Activity: Post-Separation Wedding Attendance

One may imagine I would have mixed feelings about going to a wedding in the midst of my own divorce, but I have not found that to be the case.  There were actually two weddings this weekend (one was my cousin's in Auburn which circumstances prevented me from attending), and from the moment I heard of each I was excited about the idea of going.

Here's the thing: I don't have mixed feelings about love.  I have many strong and at times confusing feelings about what went on in my own marriage, but love itself seems pretty straight forward to me: it is the act of looking another person in the eyes, seeing that person for everything he or she really and truly is, and embracing that truth, that person, wholeheartedly.

I look at Colleen and Will, hear their story, and I know theirs is a beautiful, mutually respectful love, which emanates from them when they look at each other, even after 6 years together.  That's the kind of couple you love to see get married...the kind you have the utmost confidence in.  I love that Colleen hasn't changed at all since she and Will became a couple.  I mean, I'm sure there are areas in which she'd say she's improved as a result of having known and loved Will, and I'm sure he'd say the same of himself.  But the fundamentals of each of their personalities remain wholly intact.  And you can see that each of them loves the other completely, exactly as is.  I cannot think of a better prospect in life than to be loved for exactly who you are.

I was thinking about this wedding all week as the forecast promised ominous-looking thunderstorms for today.  Though I've been to a wedding on a rainy day that turned out to be uniquely romantic, I know that nobody really hopes for rain on their wedding day.  I also should have recognized, however, that Colleen is the kind of joyful optimist who could will away rainclouds on sheer positive thoughts.  Of COURSE the rainclouds would get it out of their system and clear the way for a gorgeous afternoon!

I loved this ceremony because the bride and groom didn't take everything too seriously, and it had a lightness that in no way detracted from the fullness of its beauty.  I was in happy tears long before the bridal party even made their way down the aisle.  A couple of young men (members of Will's family, I'm guessing) sang and played a version of Eric Clapton's "You Look Wonderful Tonight" that was, I felt, better than the original; me and Maribel, sitting next to me, were fumbling around for tissue before the end of the first verse.

Then Will made his way down the aisle with Toby, the couple's dog, his companion and ring bearer.  Too cute.

Next came the bridal party followed by Colleen, who was as carefree and calm as could be.  I think lots of brides could take a lesson from her on how to truly enjoy your wedding day!

The ceremony was lovely and brief, which was nice because although it wasn't raining, it was at times chilly with the breeze.  I think everyone's favorite moment, apart from the official marriage announcement of course, was when Will took out his phone to read the wedding vows he'd written.  Nice, modern take :)

Will, at times, displayed the solemnity of a truly thoughtful man.  You could see that this moment was a very meaningful one for him.  I love that, in her vows, Colleen described Will's quiet strength.  I feel like men who don't say much are often mistaken for so many things other than what they really are at heart, and that people don't recognize how truly confident and inspiring of confidence such men are.  Cheers to Colleen for recognizing that great quality.  I'd be hard-pressed to think of a better-matched pair.

If anybody's looking for a wedding venue, I'd have to jump in and recommend this one (The Mountain Terrance in Woodside).  The setting was just amazing and the food was awesome!  These are like the two most important things when it comes to wedding venues, no?  I had to leave before the free-for-all dancing and the cupcakes, but I was so grateful to have spent the afternoon and early evening in the presence of old friends, and to witness the union of two great people.

As for post-divorce weddings, bring them on.  I love weddings.  Love them.  That hasn't changed a bit.  I would attend a wedding every day if I had the chance.  It's, I think, an under-appreciated honor to be in the presence of people experiencing (as it is for many) the happiest day of their lives.  To the Cadiz's....may you live many many years bringing this kind of smile to each other's faces!



The GGA Project -- Day #154 "Clip, Scrape, Scrub'"

You know how sometimes you put off doing something that badly needs doing, almost because you're waiting it to get a *little* bit worse?  Maybe you never do this, but the prospect of a car wash immediately comes to mind for me.   A good car wash is pricey, so I don't want to waste my money on it when my car's only a little dirty.  Then there are other mitigating factors like rain in the forecast or the knowledge that a gang of toddlers will soon be sharing the space.  I feel like there's never a perfect time for a car wash, really.

And it was through similar thinking that my toenails reached the sad state of disrepair they were caught in yesterday.  I kept thinking I should remove what was left of the toenail polish from last summer.  But then I didn't.  I hadn't trimmed them in a month, but by then I knew I'd be soon leaving it up to professionals, so I waited it out just a wee bit more.  By the time I walked into the nail salon today I was scanning the price list for "The Wolverine" treatment, figuring I'd have to pay a premium.

Here's the thing.  Usually I take care of my own nails.  My own almost everything.  I don't know if it's economics, time, or feelings about being pampered, but I have just never made visits to any salon for any reason a priority.  I've had three pedicures in my life.  One was for my wedding, and the other two were during my pregnancy.  I think those were the only times I felt worthy of the special treat.

Today's New Activity: The Just Because Pedicure

At some point this week I decided I'd treat myself, if for no other reason but that I wanted pretty toes for the coming summer.  The problem was trying to squeeze in this event between work and other obligations, as I wouldn't dream of asking Monkey to sit still through the thing.  So I found a place by my old work that was open late on Saturday and secured a spot.

When I walked in I recognized one beautician and the client at her station as customers from my old bank branch.  That was nice because it ensured there was plenty to talk about while I was there (and--a first for me--to talk about across the length of the salon.  There were only 5 of us total at that point, including employees, so it was comfortable, like a scene from Steel Magnolias).  I've touched on this before...it can be really uncomfortable, the long silences when somebody is working on your hair for example, and for me it's exponentially worse when a quiet stranger is at ground level, working on your feet.

In fact, that's the main reason I've avoided pedicures (apart from the time and the financial aspect--ok there are plenty of reasons).  I could never make peace with the idea of somebody crouched over my calloused, freaky-ass feet (or anybody's feet for that matter), cleaning and scrubbing them (and believe me, there was a load of dead-skin removal to be done this time around.  It seriously looked like a workout), and dealing with whatever was going on down there.

But then, I also know that the women in this profession are eager for work.  It's customers who keep them employed.  The more business, the better.  The woman who did my pedicure this time around was so hungry for work, in fact, I could almost say she tried to hustle it.  She asked toward the end of the pedicure if I wanted a manicure too, and though I said "no," she got up while the first coat of polish was drying and said she'd just clip my fingernails to make the lengths uniform.  She then proceeded to file and buff them and dose my hands and forearms with lotion.  I *almost* felt guilted into paying for a manicure, but I reminded her midway through all that that I didn't want a manicure, so I didn't feel responsible for whatever she was doing for an extra tip. 

What I can do to reconcile my conflicted feeling about pedicures in general is to bring my business and to be polite, respectful, appreciative, good-tipping, and willing to send referral business.  I'm sure it also helps to shave my legs (since all the pedicures I've had included a calf massage.  So nice...) and to make sure my feet are free of fungus.  Easy enough.

I'm so happy I can now go barefoot or out in sandals without risking some kind of citizen's arrest for indecency.

The GGA Project -- Day #151 "Dress Up"

Ugh!  I'm so annoyed.  All that site trouble with Blogger over the past few days has left recent blogs out of order.  There aren't many things I'm uptight about when it comes to order and uniformity, but this is one of them.  I hope you're dealing with it better than I am!

Recently my friend Kenneth mentioned in passing that he "apparently shouldn't be allowed to dress himself."  He said he wouldn't mind having some help in choosing new clothes, and then the idea was borne to make a playdate out of this.  Kenneth's girlfriend Jessica definitely needed to be in on this, so tonight we decided to make it happen.

Today's New Activity: Assisted Shopping

We started at dinner, where I wanted to get an idea of what the wardrobe issues were.  Other than a horrible orange Hawaiian shirt (which Kenneth calls his "party shirt" and wears, he says, to 80% of the parties he attends), I couldn't see any glaring problems.  Jessica and I agree on the horror of the party shirt, as I'm sure a vast majority of his friends would as well.

I asked Jessica to name a single item of clothing she'd like to see Kenneth in, and she said she wanted to swing by American Apparel to pick up a pair of gold pants.  Was that it?  I think so.  I thought she was joking at first, and I asked where she wanted him to wear these.  She said to a Burning Man, and then it made more sense.  He nixed that idea anyway.  I also asked what she didn't want to see anymore, and she said she'd already taken care of the too-baggy jeans and t-shirts, so significant headway had been made.  Incidentally, I'm totally in agreement on too-baggy clothes.  I'm so glad the tides have changed in this area and that men have mostly moved away from oversized clothing...it's nice to be able to make their shapes out under the clothes, though I'm also not a huge fan of skinny jeans.  Aristotle's Golden Mean is the way to go here.

Not too much more to do than get started.  We were on a pretty tight budget, so we headed to Target.  I feel like Target is pretty hit and miss as far as clothes go.  While I think they've made great strides when it comes to styles and prints/fabrics, the fit can often be problematic.  Their stuff just isn't cut well a lot of the time.  Still, if you find something cute and which fits well, it's generally a real bargain so it's worth the hunt.  And I think it's easier for guys to find clothing at Target than women, especially the casual basics.  Here we go:

Haha, I love how it looks like Jess is already exasperated and Kenneth is trying to convince her to hang in there, though we'd just set out.  That's totally not what's going on here, but I like that it seems that way.

Here Jess is  trying to find a hat to fit Kenneth's enormous melon, to no avail.  I never realized how goshdarned big his head really is!  He fully admits it, even points it out, so I don't feel bad mentioning it here.

After choosing two hands full of shirts and a couple of pairs of shorts, it was off to the Family Dressing Room!

Wow, the three of us would certainly make an odd family :P  I sat out while Jess assisted with the try-ons, which was a good call if I'm to base it on this reaction:

Haha.  I love it!  Kenneth did show me all the choices, though.

And in the end the three of us agreed on 2 shirts, a t-shirt, a pair of shorts and some Corona swim trunks that both of them dug well and truly.  That was kind of funny to me because I was trying to figure out which will be sillier: the day Kenneth is wearing them while drinking a Corona, or the day he's wearing them while drinking any other beer.  I guess time will tell.

I was really happy K and J let me tag along for this outing.  I've always thought it would be fun to dress a guy and I've really never had the chance.  This is mostly because the men I've been close to have generally been good at dressing themselves, so there wasn't a need.  But still the idea of picking stuff to suit a man is fun, even if he's perfectly capable of it on his own.

While we were checking out the clothes I saw at least two other men there by themselves, looking around cluelessly in that way that only men can in shopping scenarios.  I was very close to approaching one of them and offering my assistance.  Then I started wondering if this is something a person could get paid to do.  Lord knows there are enough womanless nerds in this area who could probably use the assistance.  And the nerds have the money to pay for it!  I started daydreaming about how fun that job would be.  Maybe I'll do a few volunteer outings of this nature and make a little portfolio to present to prospective clients :P