Tag Archive | random

mental sunscreen

Sometimes, my head is not where I want it to be…

at grounds for sculpture…I believe this is called something like “garden of the subconscious”

[pretty weird isn't it...?]

One thing I’ve wished I could change about myself is that I tend to get riled up by things…sometimes I say, I won’t let this small thing get to me…but if something bothers me, it’ll keep pushing on my brain, wanting to be acknowledged. It makes me feel a little…

yep, also from grounds for sculpture

I’m not saying I have a rage issue, but I let things get to me more than I should.  I aspire to have a zen-like calm in the face of whatever provokes me. In the meantime, I  have learned a few things about anger…like it never enhances my communication skills when I “talk angry.” I used to think that putting on a frowny face and a harsh tone in my voice showed people I was to be taken seriously, but I’ve learned a lot of people  (not surprisingly) don’t respond well to anger…they get angry/defensive in turn or they just shut down. And, I almost always feel bad about how I acted as some time passes (and on the occasion when I deal with a genuine jerk, I console myself that they are someone else’s problem…not a constant part of my life). Also, sometimes I can feel how corrosive anger is, how much it burns me, no matter how justified I think it might be. And that’s hard to shake off.

anger just weighs me down

But I think I’ve gotten better over the years. Maybe it’s a regressive or iterative better (two steps forward, three steps back) but I’ve learned that when something makes me angry, the worst thing I can do is react in anger. I have to retreat a bit, regroup, figure out if there’s a way to turn the anger into something productive (a better way of going about something that frustrates me, for example).

And I’ve learned what things will distract me and give me space. When I play with the cats at the animal shelter, I find I totally  forget whatever might be bothering me while I give a sweet kitty a head rub, or make sure everyone has plenty of water (a couple of the more playful ones constantly tip their bowls over, which is always fun). And inside my head, it gets more like this.

yes…exactly like this (and I love the impressionist painting sculptures…there are quite a few at grounds for sculpture)

Sometimes, as anger flashes into my head…it takes a while to remember that it’s a lot better for me to be like this last picture (ooh..and notice how the women have parasols to shade them from the heat of the sun [sun/heat/anger]…aren’t I being metaphorical [either that or I chose this photo and then realized I could work the parasol angle..])….but I get there (or close enough) eventually.

And of course, there’s always my “living art” that can give me a sense of peace

I’m like a statue!

Having a sense of humor doesn’t hurt either….

Are you easily bent out of shape? What helps bring you back to calm when you’re angry?

the great pastime

A few weeks ago, the strivingcynics went to a baseball game. This was not a first for any of us (I went to a few Phillies games growing up), but it was my first Mets game.

Luckily, it was really a perfect day for baseball (okay, for watching baseball). It was sunny and warm, but not too hot. Our seats were pretty high up, meaning we were shaded for most of the game.

Before the game started, there was a performance by a local(?) Irish dancing school. It was fun to watch the dancers, but I particularly enjoyed it when some of the players came out on the field to stretch and warm up during their performance.

dancing and warming up

One thing I was really struck by was how much advertising was going on. Almost every announcement, contest, or special moment, was “brought to us” by some organization or corporation. One of my favorites had to be something to the effect of “today’s featured blood donor is brought to you today by….” There were other highlighted audience members and also contests that always came with a sponsor.

ads everywhere that meets the eye (and more Irish step dancing)

I will admit, I’m not really a baseball fan, but I was excited to go to one after so many years. I was particularly excited about stadium food (although not stadium prices)! A slice of pizza, a soft pretzel, and some ice cream made me very happy.

mr. met, the freaky (to me) mascot, takes a walk

You can also tell I’m not that into baseball because I’ve said nothing about the game. It was against the Dodgers…and I think the Dodgers were winning until the ninth inning…when the Mets tied. Then we got to watch nothing happen for another two innings, only for the Dodgers to get 2 or 3 more runs in the twelfth.

At least we had plenty of time for stadium food.

Have you ever been to a baseball game or do you have a sport or team that you follow. What is your favorite stadium food?

award randomness

I was thrilled to hear from Stacie that she had given me a blog award.

I was even more thrilled when I looked at her post and she acknowledged the “chain letter” aspects of blog awards and has left it up to her recipients to do as much or as little as they want. And so, although I’m not going to try to pass the award on (Stacie travels in my circle a lot so there’d be mostly repeats), I will do 2 things. 1. State 11 random things about myself. 2. Answer her 11 questions.

By the way, I’ve done a random facts about me post before and it was meant to be the first of who knows how many? So, consider this part 2.

1. I am a dessert fiend. I pretty much have to have it every evening. Even if I have something (like an ice cream cone) in the afternoon, I still want evening dessert.

2. Speaking of dessert, I have never purchased anything from cinnabon because I fear I will become instantly addicted/helpless before cinnabons.

3. I prefer to write using black pens. If I start using a pen and realize that it has blue ink, I’ll put it down and look for a black-ink pen.

4. I love note cards…I have tons of them but probably send less than 10 notes a year!

5. I have been to 22 states.

6. I have been to 14 countries.

7. My favorite condiment is mustard.

8. Whenever I pass an animal, I have to comment, usually by naming the type of animal it is (ooh…doggie! kitty! horsie!).

9. My cat has me wrapped around his little paw (big surprise there).

10. I pretty much only listen to my iPod when I’m exercising so there are almost only fast songs on it.

11. I wear my contacts almost every day because I don’t feel “dressed” in my glasses.

On to Stacie’s questions and my answers.

1. What is your biggest pet peeve? Oh…so many to choose from. I’d say when someone is inconsiderate but puts it off to being easygoing “Oh…you’ve brought the donuts for the last five meetings and say it’s not your turn again? Well, *I* don’t keep track of that sort of thing (you petty petty person you!).

2. What is your biggest blogger pet peeve? Well, I stopped reading one blog a long time ago because I felt the blogger had a “holier than thou” attitude I didn’t appreciate. Otherwise, I guess I have moved away from some full-time bloggers whose self-promotion turned me off (although I guess you have to self-promote if blogging is how you make money).

3. Coke or pepsi? Not a big soda drinker, but Coke.

4. What is the number one item on your bucket list? More travel.

5. Do you like surprise parties? Hmmm…probably not. I haven’t been the victim/guest of honor of one, but I’ve been to a few and find that the effort probably isn’t worth the payoff.

6. What is the oddest thing in your handbag or wallet right now? An empty pack of gum I’ve been toting around because I’m too lazy to throw it out.

7. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Veterinarian/Marine biologist/Actress

8. What are you afraid of that actually shouldn’t scare you? Pictures of sharks with their teeth showing. Admittedly, they’re scary as hell, but I literally flinch if I come across a picture like that when I don’t expect it.

9. Are you on Instagram yet? If not, why the heck not? Yep. One of my first iPhone apps.

10. What’s your favorite animal? Cats. Shocking, I know.

darn tootin’!

11. What’s your favorite hobby (blogging doesn’t count)? Reading.

Thanks so much, Stacie! This has been fun!

the vault and the changes

shy girl

I know I’ve had pictures of her on the blog before, but this was strivingcynic cat’s big sister. A very sweet girl!

As I’ve probably also mentioned before, the computer I use for blogging has been frustrating me due to its “slowness.” When I got it, I thought it was the best thing ever…it replaced a 6 year-old computer that just could not handle what I needed to use it for. But, time passed and suddenly, another 6 years were gone…and I realized my technique of turning on the computer and going away for 15 minutes so I wouldn’t get frustrated while it booted up was no longer working for me. Neither was the freezing/slow loading. 6 years is apparently all I can tolerate as far as computer ages go…which means this is the first post on my new computer.

[I should admit here that mr. strivingcynic put me on a more proactive path than the one I was on. The one where I sat and pouted and whined about how slow things were. Not only did he point me in the direction of some good choices, but helped me get set up (left to my own devices, this would still be sitting in the box till the weekend)]

One thing I realized with the previous computer was that all the photos I was now taking were going to take up too much space. So, I got an external hard drive and moved a lot of photos there. Every once in a while, I’d want to use a photo that I knew was on the hard drive…since I didn’t keep it connected…well, I wasn’t going to do the waiting to connect it, so I couldn’t use the photo.

Now, I’ve got a new setup and will stay connected to the hard drive, which means I have access to the vault. So, I can go back and display pictures like this one:

My trip to Rome, 2006

or this:

 from when sc cat was a kitty and I built him a “house” out of cat food can boxes

So, I’m excited that I get to work on my blogs and look at yours in a less-frustrating setting! 

Do you have a set time period for exchanging/upgrading technologies? How do you decide what to choose?

freaky friday

A few weeks ago, mr. strivingcynic and I went to a mall that featured a Jamba Juice stand. Believe it or not, I’ve never had any Jamba Juice before. It was a hot day, so we decided to share a smoothie. It took a minute for the guy taking our order to look up at us (too busy looking at pictures on a colleague’s cell phone). A little annoying. The guy who made/gave us our smoothie was very nice and seemed happy as he exchanged the usual pleasantries with us, which made a difference in the overall impression.

The smoothie itself was some sort of berry-banana flavor and was very yummy and refreshing…we parked ourselves on some stools by the stand and hung out while finished the smoothie. I was sitting, looking at my phone as usual, in front of a poster for some Jamba Juice oatmeal.

looks appetizing, right?

Looked like a good deal…even though of course I can buy a gazillion servings of oatmeal for about the same price if I’m willing to do the cooking. But as an on-the-go option….yum.

But, I also couldn’t help noticing something on the poster…

only monday to when?

Wow…aside from the fact that in my head, I now hear Rebecca Black singing “It’s FIday….FIday….” I keep wondering what the heck happened! I kind of get it when Wednesday is spelled wrong, but Friday!? Or maybe it’s a sneaky way to invalidate the deal…you fools, there is no Fiday, so no $1.99 oatmeal for you! I just sort of wonder when a major corporation has an error like that on its promotional materials.

Wouldn’t stop me from getting another smoothie from there though….

Have a great weekend!

beelieve it

Years ago, when I lived in my apartment, I had a balcony that I rarely sat out on. I loved having a balcony, but I rarely was able to enjoy it for long without a bee flying around. I would freak out, run inside…try going out again, run back inside.

One summer, I tried again. I would head out on the balcony…sit down in my chair…and almost instantly…bee. After this happened five or six times…I had an idea. I went back into my apartment, got on the floor to look out the sliding glass door and there it was. Under the chair I was sitting in, a nest. No wonder my sitting down would immediately trigger a visit.

Honestly, my first thought was whether I could just throw the chair off my third-story balcony. I realized I couldn’t…was afraid of knocking the nest off the chair with bees in it…so I decided that I’d have to blast them out with insect killer, then get rid of the nest (push it off the balcony). I wasn’t happy about having to do it (I try not to kill bugs if I don’t have to…but I really didn’t see another choice. If I left it alone, I’d end up with a swarm on my balcony, so that clearly wasn’t an option).

So, bugs blasted, and the balcony restored to bee-freeness. I tried again. One day, I sat in the chair. Bee. I went back inside…and they’d started building another nest. I realized that this was a losing battle…there was probably just something that told the bees the chair was home. So, I repeated the operation…and this time I threw the chair away (after removing the nest/pushing it off the balcony, I carried the chair out of my apartment, down to the dumpster).

So…the other day, I decided to bring some stuff to the recycle dumpster thingy where we live on my way to work. I got in my car, and pulled over by the dumpster. Opened my car door and as I was leaving to take my recycling over, I saw this:


Yes, that is the inside of my car door…part I don’t usually see because it isn’t visible when the door is shut. I have no idea how long that has been there, or how long these take to build. It looked pretty small and I didn’t see anyone around it/inside. So, I grabbed my long handled windshield scraper/brush, and:

not in the car!

[Two things...I remember bees flying out at me from the balcony, but I keep wondering if this is really a bees' nest because I think of hives for bees..but I think they were yellow jackets...I could be wrong. Next, sadly, yes, I thought of the blog and took pictures! But I also took them as "proof" because I couldn't believe it!]

So, later that day I told mr. strivingcynic what happened…showed him the photo…he was incredulous. Sadly, we have a can of Raid that we’ll be spraying on that spot. I don’t relish driving around with that smell…but based on what happened last time, I can’t have the bees deciding my car is the place to…..be :-).

Any bug encounter stories you’d care to relate?

the powers and limits of concentration

I find that I go through phases of ambition and phases of  “I enjoy being a slug…” There’s probably some seasonality to it (in the winter I want to hibernate…aside from a burst of New Year’s ambition). Once spring/summer arrive, I want to do so many things that I think will enrich my life. Rather, I want to do too many things that end up pulling me in too many directions.

I think my ambition/self improvement junkie streak is mostly a good thing. The blog name “striving cynic” came from the fact that even though the voice in my head goes “Yeah, right,” I still want to push myself more in all different directions. As my goals for 2012 indicated, I wanted to run farther, blog more often, tackle clutter, read…well not more books but certainly not less than in 2011, and take better care of my hands (sigh…that one still eludes me…but I’ll save that for the more formal update once we hit the “year is officially half over” [eep]) mark.

One thing I have picked up on about myself over the years, is that my ambition will often hit the wall of the limits of my concentration. Looking back, this is probably the reason why I never tried to pull an all nighter in high school or college. I was too much of an “I hate deadlines” nut to ever leave a project till last minute, and as far as exams went, I always felt that if I didn’t know it by 1 in the morning, I wasn’t going to. I was simply incapable of absorbing more information.

Another example is my blogging “schedule.” I’ve mentioned that I pretty much always prewrite/schedule posts. This usually means that on weekends, I work on my Monday and Tuesday morning book post. I’m happiest when I have the Thursday post knocked out on a Monday night (Tuesday will do…Weds. is pushing it!) and the Saturday post done on Weds (again, Thurs. will do…Friday makes me angsty). I end up usually writing Monday/Tuesday back to back….but by the time I’ve done those, I hit my limit for thinking about what I want to say, writing, reading, editing. So even though I would love the feeling of “wow, it’s sunday and I’ve got all my posts scheduled for the next week,” it just doesn’t happen. After 2, I need to move on to something else.

I think I’m happiest when I’m multitasking. Not in the “studies have shown multitasking is a loser’s game because you can’t concentrate” kind of way (I have no citation in mind, but I know there have been stories of late about how literally multitasking gets you nowhere [okay, fine. Don't trust me...here's a link to a story on this from The Huffington Post. Not good enough? Here's another from NPR]. I mean when I don’t block out an entire day/large chunk of time for one task, but rather have a number of things to work on (another lesson from college, when I had a semester that was so intense, I would literally take a break from whatever I was working on by shifting over to something else). And I prefer to mix the types of tasks I’m multi-ing (must do’s with/would like to do’s) (brainy/with physical). Although I can deal with “today is devoted to one task” when I have to, I’m miserable when I hit “today is devoted to x because it must be 100 percent done tomorrow [should have started earlier]!”

Good to know it only took me about 40 years to figure out how I work best, right? (okay, I wasn’t too worried about this for at least the first 16)!

How do you think you work best? What are your “limits”?

put a smile on your face…

Every week, I spend a lot of time packing up food to take to work with me.  Because I’m running around in the morning, and my appetite doesn’t kick in until I’ve been up for a bit, I pack a breakfast…then there’s the rest of the day. Midmorning snack, lunch, afternoon snack. I do stock some foods at work (nuts to add to my yogurt or oatmeal mostly), but generally, I spent about 10-15 minutes a night planning out my food for the next day (if I try to do it in the morning, I always end up leaving later than I planned).

My food packing brought to light a major difference between mr. strivingcynic and me. You see, mr. sc can pack his food in containers and “fold and close” plastic bags. I try to use containers..and I’ll use fold and close for things like apples…but given certain klutzy certainties of my life and packing style, I need the bags with the “zippers.” I once made the mistake of trying to pack a sandwich in a fold and close and lost the sandwich between the kitchen and living room due to my poor handling technique (I had forgotten to pack it in the kitchen, my lunch bag was already in the living room…). I just cannot fold in a way that seals.

Over the course of a week, I’ll try to reuse plastic bags when I can. The bag that held pretzels on day one can easily hold a sandwich on day two. So, that makes me feel better about spending the money/not just using them once and throwing them away. Usually, I buy these at the supermarket, and aside from the fact that the zip bags always cost more than the fold ones, have never really paid attention. Then I bought a double pack of the Target brand Up and Up…and I noticed something.


a box of bags…

A closer look…

who you looking at?

Aside from “aww…that’s so cute,” I can’t help thinking “umm…would anyone ever seriously try to pack an open face peanut butter sandwich into a plastic bag?” I can tell you when I pack pb sandwiches that are “closed” I usually end up with blobs of peanut butter all over the bag (making it unreusable…). And yet the peanut butter in this photo looks so pristine…I can see the knife/spread marks and it makes me picture a mom (I know it could be a dad..) pushing the knife back and forth over the bread before cutting the little pieces of fruit onto the slice. This “sandwich” is just adorable. But I don’t think it could exist inside a plastic bag in reality.

Of course, the fruit face makes me smile or laugh every time I see it.

 Fold and close or zip? And if you pack food, what is your “technique”?

stress bunny

I’m still away from the blogosphere…but here’s something I scheduled for while I’m away.

One thing that drives me nuts about myself is that I let things get to me. Way too many things. Most of the time. So, I’m constantly trying to figure out how to manage stress. Over the years, I’ve figured out some things that work (exercise good, ability to distract self with fun movie or book also good), but I’ve never managed to cultivate that “this is small stuff that’s not worth worrying about/stressing over” attitude that I think would make me feel a little (ok a lot) saner at times.

I’ve had times where I was successful at distracting myself from my stress, only to wake up at 3 in the morning unable to get the “stress thoughts” out of my head. I will tell myself it’s silly being awake at 3 am and I’m better off getting some rest…but the thoughts will keep coming until I finally fall asleep again.

So, I always look at vacations as a time to decompress…but also as a time to try to figure out how to “reset.” The problem is, even when I get away and get that “I shouldn’t let things bother me” vacation relaxation attitude…I’m unable to keep this beyond a day or two back in my real world. (I go from serene to cursing in a matter of hours!)

But maybe this time will be different! And in the meantime, if anyone has some “how I got over being a little stress bunny” tips, I’d like to hear them!

not so bright and….not so bright

Was it just me or did anyone else notice a certain lack of brightness on Saturday?

The first LoB involved a bit of my usual morning routine.

I was happily surprised to get a Keurig coffee maker for Christmas this year and so far, I’ve really been enjoying it.  The Keurig has been integrated into my routine in a way that works for me. That is, after I’m done with my workout, I put water into the Keurig, plug it in and turn it on. It needs several minutes to get ready to brew (I guess to heat  the water up…), so this means that once I’m out of the shower, all I have to do is add the pod, stick the K-cup inside and hit go!

Because the Keurig makes one cup of coffee…I usually go in for a second brew. Exchange k-cup for new one…and hit “brew”….and the second cup awaits. Well, on  Saturday…I did everything according to routine, except one little thing. When I went to make the second cup, I neglected to actually put my mug on the platform so that the coffee could brew into it. So, you can imagine my surprise when I hit “brew”…and then started doing other things, only to look over at it and see the coffee dripping straight down onto the platform (now, thankfully, the platform has holes in it and underneath is a relatively deep tray). My mug was sitting across the kitchen….by the time I realized what was happening, the coffee was already overflowing from the tray onto the counter.

The tray saved it from being a total disaster….and I realized that beyond cleaning up the counter, I would probably injure myself if I even tried to do anything with the tray with its steaming hot coffee inside.  So what did I do? Cleaned up the counter, put in another K cup, put the mug on the platform, and made more coffee while waiting for it to cool down (mr. strivingcynic [who didn't witness the initial fun] ended up guessing what I did [noticing the counter coffee I missed, I guess] and very nicely took care of the tray).

Of course the thing is, I blame lack of coffee for my lack of brightness. Maybe if I’d had more coffee, I wouldn’t have messed up the coffee.

The second non-bright moment Saturday had nothing to do with me. I had been excited Saturday morning (in my usual watching tv on the treadmill spot), because the newscasters/meteorologists were talking about how there was going to be a “supermoon” Saturday night. The moon is actually closer to earth right now, so it was going to look super huge in the night sky. How cool is that?

So last night, mr. sc, sc teen and I looked out the windows and then headed outdoors, looking forward to seeing an incredibly bright, close, moon in the sky. But all we had were clouds. Not a moon to be seen. Brightness denied.

Did you have any not-so-bright moments this weekend? Were you able to see the supermoon?