Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Regarding: Cake Batter

REgarding cake batter,  don't lead me on
and say that the cake batter ice cream
so delicately pastelled in cream and pink and baby blue
is the holy grail of desserts I seek.
Don't say, "It's so simple!" in that annoyingly delicate little font.
Do not even Attempt to list more than 4, no, 3 ingredients
and not include golden cake batter mix
from Duncan Hines,
Creator of my childhood batter,
For I seek the simple, pure recipe.
Don't even, cause I can't even.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Amtrak trip from LAX to ABQ and back

Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.
Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.
Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.
Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.Amtrak trip from LA to Albuquerque and back.

My son and I took the Southwest Chief from LA to Albuquerque.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Personal Art Challenge

I'm going to try to start painting or drawing again.  Challenge is this: create one little piece each week and then post it here.

Here's a piece I did some time ago.

2005, Digital, Corel Draw with a Wacom tablet.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Surviving an Emotional Storm - 20 Tips!

London Bridge is falling down.  Oh, my fair heart.  Love is a tempest sea.  Millions of humans have been in your shoes.  You might feel alone, but you are not.  You may feel overwhelmed by the tidal wave of emotions, but you can survive it.

Many of us have been there.  The tidal wave, the storm of a crushed heart.  I have a few friends who have recently had very deep punctures to their souls.  I've been there many times, myself.

That one person who uses you for a while and then, BAM, leaves you in an instant to chase a prettier/more handsome female/male (who is probably using them, too, by the way.)   You're left standing there wondering, "Was it something I said?  Was it something I didn't say?"  

Most likely, it was the other person, and this is the Universe's way of protecting you from a relationship filled with disappointment and heartbreak.  I firmly believe this.

"Look, Lisa!  You can actually pinpoint the moment his heart breaks in half!"

But the pain is severe, nonetheless, right?  You have to get through that immediate shock.  It takes time but with a few tricks you can manage.  They don't all have to be done, or in any particular order.  Some will work better than others.  You may have a few tricks of your own.  More power to ya!

1.  Stop blaming yourself.  Give yourself permission to see that the other person is probably a jerk and hid that pretty well.
Don't make your inner bunny cry!! Why would you do that??

2.  If you have to see this person again (work, family, etc) try setting the bar much, much lower for them. Expect they will hurt you again, except the next time you will be ready for it. This is to protect yourself from any future hurt, not a wish that they will become worse people. (Ideally we should hope they become better people, but you have to be realistic, and protect your heart sometimes.) When you love someone you tend to place them in an angelic category. By setting the bar lower you remind yourself that they were human, after all.

3.  Meditate, pray, whatever.  I have a mental retreat to where I go when things get fuzzy.  Blue meanies can't get me there!  (I'll give you points if you know what Blue Meanies are.)  Pinterest is great for creating a virtual scrap book for mental retreats.  Here's mine, as an example : http://pinterest.com/scorrice/my-mental-retreat/  

A forest in Bulgaria.  Part of my mental retreat. 

4.  Exercise. You may have to force yourself, but it'll help disspell that negative energy you may be keeping inside. Imagine all of that anger sublimating from you as sweat and exhalation. It also helps you sleep.  I do a 2 mile walk right before bed and it makes me tired enough to get the REM sleep I need to process any trouble I have in my life.

5.  Write about it in a journal, poetry or song.  Write several times if you need to, before you write that person (if you feel you will need to still have this person in your life.)  Writing gives you a sense of control.  You are controlling your thoughts and putting them on paper in a way YOU want.  The more control you can regain at a time you felt there was none, you are moving forward.

May all of our angry writings bring us as much financial success.  Cheers, Adele!

6.  Reset your mind and soul to a point before the "virus" occurred.  I like to think about how I was when I was in college, before I was married. I try to remember the dreams I had, the music I listened to, the TV shows I watched. It distracts me until I can calm down.  I will also rent a movie with an actor I had or have a crush on.  It reminds me of the ideal mate I was looking for before I met the heartbreaker.

7.  Talk to a friend.  Preferably one that will make you laugh, or understand if you are just looking for a shoulder to cry on, or a set of instructions to fix a problem.  Typically, men like to fix problems, so they will give you solutions, regardless of how acidic or cruel-sounding they may be.  Women will typically commiserate and give you that "you're not alone" feeling.  Chose the right one to talk to!

8.  Pet therapy.  Animals are awesome. They don't care what you look like, what you wear, how you smell. You could have just robbed a little old lady on the street, and your dog or cat will STILL be, like, "Hey you're home!!!  Let's eat!"  If you don't have a pet, you can go to a pet store, like Petco, and watch the dogs play at doggie day care.  Hard to feel down when you see them frolic.  Free happy.

Pets don't care what happened.  They love you anyway.  Especially shelter pets.

9.  Rearrange furniture, or super-clean your house or apartment. This is great because you can use your anger to do something constructive. A clean house makes it easier to think. Rearranging furniture is a physical manifestation of you changing your environment. Both things give you back a sense of control.

10.  Plan a new vacation with just you or a neutral trip-mate. You don't really have to go there, but planning/looking at cruise websites and train routes helps. You are mentally taking yourself to a new place.  I have cruise site I go to frequently.
11.  Think about the person you were at a moment in you life you were happiest. For me this was when I was 6. I go back to the cartoons I watched, the books I read, the things I loved. At age 6 I wanted to be Robin Hood, collected rocks, and had a crush on Bruce Lee. I spend a little time with those things. What I am actually doing is going back to the Core-Sarah, the unfiltered Me, and getting strength from that again. It reminds me that I was strong before I knew this toxic person, and deep inside I still am strong.

Unfiltered Me,  the Core-Sarah, 6 years old in the Philippines.  That's my sister to the right.   

12.  Reconnect with things only You liked, not things you did as a couple or as part of the relationship.   You are trying to refill your soul with what makes YOU, alone, strong.  Anything nature-related for me does the trick here. Nature doesn't judge me or let me down, so I wrap myself up in a forest.

13.  If you have the money, give yourself a spending limit and go SHOPPING! Getting out and about can help. If you can come back with loot and not break your checking account, bully to you, Sir!

14.  Humor websites/books/dvds.  If things are really hurting me I go to one of several websites:  www.awkwardfamilyphotos.com,   www.DamnYouAutocorrect.com,  www.disturbingauctions.com, or something similar.   I listen to comedy channels on Sirius XM radio, or watch my favorite comedies.    Don't wait for the fog of heartbreak to make it hard to find these things.  Set up a "Break In Case of Heartbreak" folder now while you have the clear mind to do so.

From www.AwkwardfamilyPhotos.com   He's a keeper, ladies! And that leprechaun suit means there's the promise of a pot o'gold!

15.  Commiserate. I have a Twitter account and have found that going to #ithurtswhen or #heartbreak hashtags put me into the midst of a group of people who are also hurting. Suddenly, I am not abandoned, but on some virtual Island of Misfit Toys. Some of the problems people post are so severe that I am suddenly reminded that it can always be worse. Online chat groups help, too.

#ItHurtsWhen you are abandoned on the Island of Misfit Toys, but at least you're not alone!  And Rudolph will tell someone to come get you.

16.  Inspirational or positive websites/books/dvds. I have a folder of bookmarks for these. There are apps for this, too. I write positive things on my hand in permanent ink. I also have a Pinterest board filled with inspiring and coping quotes and images. (http://pinterest.com/scorrice/managing-it-all) Visual cues help focus your brain. When you read something positive you are also saying it to yourself in your internal monologue. The more you do this, the stronger that neural net becomes. This is an an actual, physical result of putting positive things in your minds. Which also reminds me - Stay away from negative people until you are strong enough to resist them. 

Remember what Stuart Smalley says: I'm  good enough, smart enough and doggone it, people like me!

17.  Makeover or spa.  Let someone else pamper your body.  Massage schools need volunteers bodies upon which to practice.  Come on!  Free massage from someone who can legally mush your muscles and won't require you to enter an emotional contract!  Win-win. 

18.  Volunteer!  Do something good for someone and you will feel good, too.  Giving yourself that other place to go to where you are doing something good for someone is good for a troubled heart.   I used to volunteer at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum, among other places.  I love teaching people about nature, and the Smithsonian had several places where I could do just that.  And I had a beautiful place to go to when I felt alone or useless.  I was always welcome there.  I wrote a blog posts about this sometime ago.  Here's the link: http://sarahsvolunteer.blogspot.com/2012/05/why-what-and-how-to-volunteer.html  

Volunteering helps you see that you matter to someone.

19.  Make a list of what IS going right in your life right now.  Are you and American? (or 'Merican?) Are you well-fed?  Do you have a healthy body, free of cancer?  Are your children safe?  If you said "yes" to any of these, then your life is pretty damn good!  Focus on what is going well.  Have you had your heart broken in the past, and recovered from it?  Guess what?! You are probably gonna recover faster from this one.  

Your heart may be broken, but it could be so much worse.  Focus on what you have now.  

20.  And most of all, understand that you are stronger than you know.  It will pass.  It'll come in waves, like a tsunami, but eventually the ocean will smooth out again.   Know that it's ok to ask for help, and it's ok to cry, no matter how big and hulkish you are.  You aren't alone.  Through out human history, millions of books, plays, movies, sonnets, songs have been written about heartbreak.  This is proof that ancient Romans, serfs, Elizabethan poets knew how you felt.  Heartbreak is part of human life.  If you haven't had your heart broken at least once, you have not really experienced the ups and downs of life.   I write this now and I know I will feel heartbreak again, but I'll be damned if I get hit again without a cache of coping skills in my mental arsenal.

You are not alone.  You will get through it.  There's a saying:  A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.   

That's right, Barbie.  Ken broke your heart, but don't give up on life!  Tomorrow is another day.  (Besides, GI Joe is right down the lane and around the corner. ) 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Ants and Copernicus

Formicidae Denizens

I have a colony of ants in my bathroom.  The colony is part of a massive one that is, no doubt, scattered throughout the entire apartment building.  I've had my little battles with them for a couple of years now.  I always ALWAYS feel guilty for setting traps.  I don't like killing anything.  But I see it like this: they're destroying the structural integrity of the home in which my son is sleeping.  An earthquake plus rotting wood frame does not equal safety.  So I set the traps.

Well, I think about ants now and then.  Probably more than a gal should.  Collective species, eausocial, superorganisms, they are.  They share information with each other about where to find food, where is the nearest threat, should they build up or out despite zoning laws, etc.... The queen is the brain, in a way.  The nexus of the collective.  Her wishes become the colony's missions.  The workers carry out the mission while soldier ants protect them from invaders.  The collective system is strong and runs like a well-oiled machine.  That is the world of ants.  Ants don't survive well alone.

Ants don't survive well by themselves, (unless there are other bugs to help them).

Well anyway, I take a shower and see ants taking the food from the traps.  The food contains boric acid, which mixes well with sugar and slowly kills the ants and queen, since she is fed this food like a diva being fed bonbons.  And I think about this.  The queen eats this stuff, maybe detecting something odd, knowing it's not a normal food, and still wants more.

The ant queen, middle, is the nexus of the colony.  Is she wants poisonous bonbons, then you better dang well get her some poisonous bonbons.

Her wishes become the colony's mission, remember? They keep eating the poisonous food and bringing it back to her.  They are all living for the next 24 hours on borrowed time, all because momma queenie has to be kept happy and fat.

You better keep her happy!

Well, I see some poor ant there in the shower with me.  Now I have a vivid imagination.  I imagine she's talking to another ant, most likely about where the bait is, maybe about how hot and humid it got suddenly, who knows.  She kinda stops a bit, appears perplexed, like something is amiss, then regains the pheromone trail the others are on.  I look at this worker ant, just there, doing her job, and I think, "I bet she knows there's something wrong with this food."  (Another part of my brain goes on a tangent thinking, "Awww crap.  The ants.  They know too much!" And a 1940's noir-style scenario where the ants are like an insect mafia and I'm an undercover cop starts taking off.  That scenario runs in my mind's background and amuses other parts of my brain at that point.)

But Yelp said the food in Sarah's bathroom was awesome!

This poor worker ant.  She tastes the food, says, "Something is horribly wrong with this food source.  We shouldn't be eating this," and has no choice but to carry out her mission.  It would be nearly impossible for her to walk away from her colony and away from the danger.  She'd have no protection, no communication, and a sense that she is not fulfilling the mission she knew from the first time she left her larval stage.  She is doomed, and she knows it.  She will watch her sisters die, her queen die, and she won't be able to stop it.

The little worker ant in my shower has this on one of her Pinterest boards, I bet.

I then start thinking about humans that have been in this sort of position.  Those people who say, "Hey, something isn't right here. This doesn't make sense."

A person who sees a truth the others don't is a very lonely person.  Everyone else around this person goes along with some directive without questioning "Why?" If he or she says, "You know, this doesn't add up" she/he feels or actually is oustracized, belittled, made fun of.  A lonely life.  That person has to decide "do I go along with the crowd because they are my family and friends, or do I stay here alone with the truth?"

Copernicus.  He was sure the earth revolved around the sun and not the other way around.  He was also very afraid to offend the church and his collegues with the truth he knew.

Nicolaus Copernicus was one of those people.  He has been credited with the heliocentric model.  He said the earth revolves around the sun, not the other way around.  He was really, really nervous about telling everyone about his findings.  His closest friends knew what he had found, and said, "Come on, Nick, publish this!" but he was so worried about religious objections that it was only at his deathbed that De revolutionibus orbium coelestium was printed.  If it weren't for the support of his closest friends, the heliocentric model of the solar system and subsequent discoveries would have been in jeapordy.   Around 50-60 years later Kepler and Galileo gave Copernicus's theory the world-wide treatment it deserved.  Both of these men, too, were alone in their ant-worlds, pointing to a truth the established colony denied existed.

Seems like such an ordinary fact to you and me, but in the mid 1600's this picture was heresy and could get you killed. Times change, science advances, humanity advances.  What seems far-fetched and blasphemous to many now may be an ordinary fact in a 100 years.  You or I could be one of the people who change humanity's mind, if we're brave enough.

In the 16th century, it took guts for a man to say, "The earth is not the center of the universe."  That takes cajones.  Guys like Copernicus stood to lose everything, including their lives.  We look back at people in that era and say, "Those guys, were stupid!  Of COURSE the Earth revolves around the sun.  Pfft, everyone knows that!"   Well, we know it now because brave people decided to ask a few questions instead of just accepting what everyone simply accepted as truth.  In fact, most of the advances in science and morality that we take for granted-take as fact now, were only brought to light by men and women who stood alone in a sea of hatred and contempt with nothing but their belief in their truth.

It's a lonely world for these people. Humanity moves forward, and it has done so on the backs of lonely and accused people.


A look at how far humanity has come in what we know to be true.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Contemplating Separation from a Unique Relationship

Might have to do this. 

No, no, no... not separation from a person.  This is the contemplation of separation from an entity.  In this case, my part time job.  I can't really say, in this post, what entity it is because I will be engaging in something I don't have time for.  Let's just call it "The Organization", or "Org", for short.

The Org employs millions.  It has mission statements and business models.  It tries to manage everyone and cut costs at the same time.  Could be any business, at this point.  Some ideas work spectacularly.  Others fail miserably.

Just a droid, I am.

Recently, I've been sitting at the business end of a bad idea the Org had.  Due to recent advances in technology (good thing) and budget cuts (bad thing) the Org decided to ask non-administrative types (such as myself) to perform an administrative task, usually reserved for trained administrative professionals, using new technology.  (Never, ever take your administrative assistants for granted.  Ever.)

ON PAPER this should work.  Things usually work well... on paper.  But those of us who have been here on planet Earth a bit know this is usually not the case.  Good planners plan for that.  But busy, overtasked, or undertrained planners don't get that far.

That's the set up to my issue.  I recently had to perform an administrative task, related to my pay - a crucial part of anyone's life and job - that was not well-planned.  I was using a new software to process a request for payment.  This task used to be done by humans, and it seemed to work.  The new way eliminates that human.  It was supposed to speed up the process of payment.  Instead, I went through the wringer.

Yeah, I'm Curly with his hands like that.  (And Grenada must be an awesome place to create a stamp like this.)

I struggled through this software.  I thought I did well.  Needless to say, I didn't.  I messed everything up.  I only found this out after seeing that certain payees had not received a payment that was supposed to be deducted from my pay.  Oy!  I thought I fixed that problem.  Now I see I owe more.  The sum is suspiciously close to the price of 2 airline tickets - something I know (or believed) I asked the task software to do.   Not having a live human to handle my handwritten pay requests leaves a machine to fill in the blanks - which it cannot do.

How quaint.

So here I am, angry enough to write my frustrations down.

I spent about a week of work time at my real job trying to fix this.  When I was supposed to be fixing things at my real job, I was working on this, instead.  It wore down my patience.  And I have always been considered patient.  What bothered me the most is, had I used the old way and submitted all of this to a real human, who knew my circumstances, none of this would have happened.

So now I owe some other entity a sum that equals 2 airline tickets.  It's money Org has and won't release without reworking the convoluted system, which will take my time, my effort, my sanity.

Now, I want to stress that it is not the people in the Org I work with who are upsetting me.  They are dealing with the same issues.  It is the Org's policies and regulations that are upsetting.  (I love my co-workers.  They are amazing people.  Really.  They are simply amazing.) But of all of the problems, issues, on my plate right now, nearly 80% of them are from this part-time job with the Org.

Most of the problems are related to payment the Org has said it would/will/should make to other entities, and instead I am getting the bills because it expected non-administrative people to do very detailed and complicated administrative tasks that are outside their training, scope, time, etc...   This, to me, is unacceptable.  It's like dating a guy with a gambling problem and I'm paying off the loan shark so "Rollo" doesn't take his legs.

A feel like Michel Bluth a little too often. Getting Gob out of another mess.

Lately the Org has asked so much of me and my co-workers.  It's been throwing its mistakes into our laps so we spend our own money to fix its problems.  (I already get that relationship from my healthcare provider, geez.)

I know, I know, each entity we work for has good and bad moments, and it is always a good thing to work, but look at it like a relationship.  Look at it like a marriage.  (That is basically what we have -we make a commitment to an entity or company, swearing to be faithful until we retire, or find a better partner, right?)  In my world, I don't have a boyfriend/husband, I have my job.  (Which makes this job with the Org an extra marital affair of sorts.  Such scandal!)

I want to download this book.  Because I feel betrayed by Org.

Well, what do I do?  This relationship is strained.  I already have a "full-time marriage" that supports me.  My relationship with the Org has always cost me time, but now, it's beginning to cost money to stay in this relationship. Money I don't have.  I'm supposed to be paid by the Org, not fix its financial problems.  I have 6 more years until I can retire from the Org.  6 more years of getting bills in the mail from something the Org said it would take care of.  6 more years of unexpected requests and demands "or else you won't get paid".  6 more years of watching other friends give up.  6 more years of not getting the same benefits the full-time people in the Org get, but being expected to do the same job, just to save a buck.

I'm tired, too, sista.

I don't know, anymore, if this is a low point in the Org-marriage, or me being taken advantage of.  It feels like the latter.  I don't want to leave these wonderful people, but each bill or email about money makes me inch away from Org.  Makes me want to throw my stuff in a U-haul and sadly drive away.