Thursday, November 18, 2010

My world

Random thoughts from my day that I wanted to tweet but I haven't found an app for my new(ish) phone. I have to be content with sharing my thoughts only with myself. Gasp.

Today ended a relatively long period of time during which I have not fallen or otherwise injured myself. I fell UP some stairs in a very public place and a young man who looks like the blond kid on Glee -you know, the new cast member - paused while talking on his cell phone to ask if I was OK. Oh, I was fine. Just FINE, thank you very much. I felt very old and I need Advil.

I guess really it hasn't been all that long since I injured myself. There was the incident where the hot gooey stuff on a Panera cinnamon crunch bagel jumped onto my thumb like a tick and burned a hole at the base of the nail. That's one way to get rid of those annoying cuticles. But I haven't actually FALLEN in quite a while, which for me is nothing short of miraculous. I don't remember being particularly clumsy as a child. It's definitely an acquired talent.

Lately on the way to work I've been driving around construction crews doing mysterious things. Today all was revealed. They have installed beautifully executed wheelchair ramps at the curb of every corner near Penn and I-40. They are quite something to behold, these ramps. Except that they lead straight into the soggy grass - ramps to nowhere. There are no sidewalks. I certainly hope that they are connected very soon by sidewalks, otherwise it will have been a monumental waste of time and money. Did the city get stimulus money specifically to make curbs wheelchair accessible? Weird. At least now the panhandlers can pull their shopping carts or bicycles or wheelchairs closer to the traffic. I'm not being insensitive about the wheelchair thing. They clearly do NOT need wheelchairs. Seriously people, stop giving them money.

I've had bouts of giddiness the last couple of days. I think it has to do with the cold weather and the Christmas music I'm playing in my car. It just clears the head and makes one sort of stupid happy. Truthfully I'm not a big fan of the actual holidays, but I do love the atmosphere and the days leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think it has something to do with unrealistic expectations. Everything is supposed to look and feel and smell like perfection, right? Wrong. Life isn't quite that clean and neat and free from drama. I need to approach the holidays fully expecting messiness and fussiness and a predictably unpredictable amount of non-cooperation and imperfection. Then I'll be pleasantly surprised if it turns out well. I should be Danish.

Tomorrow I say good-bye to all my new friends at United Way who now feel like old friends. So I'm off to bed early in order to be fresh for the very early morning celebration breakfast.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


This week is my last week at United Way as a Loaned Executive. It's interesting how when you are shoved through the door into a room with 25 complete strangers you come out the other door three months later with 25 new friends. I can't think of too many other examples of an opportunity to put your daily work life on hold for a few months while you go do something good for somebody else, and at the same time gain skills, knowledge and a bunch of new contacts. Pretty awesome. I would encourage anyone to do it.

I'm on my way to speak at my last rally of the campaign season. Then I'll spend the rest of the day and week making final contacts with my accounts, rounding up those last dollars, wrapping things up. And counting my blessings. 'Tis the season! Oh, and while I'm driving around...I'll be listening to Dave Barnes Very Merry Christmas album. If you buy one Christmas album this season, make it that one!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What'chu lookin' at?

Illustration by cartoonist Tex Avery

In my younger days I could turn a head. You know what I'm talking about - bring on a second glance from an admiring male. But, as the years have added up with the pounds, that has happened less and less. Or maybe it's because men are too busy checking out my beautiful daughters. That always makes me want to smack them (the men, not the daughters) and point out that I'm their mother and I'm RIGHT HERE! HELLO! I can see you! Once I was at an office party and talking with a group of younger men. One of them was clearly checking out my daughter, who was standing across the room. He even went so far as to make a suggestive comment to one of the other guys. I was all "ahem - before you take that thought any further, I want to point out that she is my daughter, and I would be happy to introduce you to her husband and her father, who are IN THE NEXT ROOM! Sheesh.

Recently though, I've noticed a strange new phenomenon. Older dudes are taking a second glance at me. I find myself wondering what that old guy is staring at. Why is he smiling in my direction? Really, I don't get it. Do I look familiar to them? Are they just passing gas? Because I don't feel like my looks are worth a second glance. I'm not saying that in a self-deprecating sort of way. I'm just stating it as fact. I have seen better days and a lot of cookies. I do have nice hair though. Maybe older men like nice hair.

I shared this thought with my sister and she pointed out that the "old" dudes were probably our age. I guess that makes me feel a little less creeped out but it really doesn't make me feel any better or give me an answer to the mystery. Because it does seem a little like a mystery.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

If I only had a brain...freeze

Yawn. That's what my blog has been lately. Not because my life is a yawn but because I just...well, I just...I don't know what I just. I do know I enjoyed doodling the artwork you see on my blog. Maybe it's a metaphor for my life. Lots of interesting things flowering in my brain but very little of it fully colored in or complete.

We've had some relatives in. I burned myself on another cinnamon crunch bagel. That's becoming a weekly ritual. Maybe next time I'll go with something with less topping that can stick to my thumb and burn a hole in me before I can shake it off. I entered another writing contest just for the practice. The gig at United Way is good. We are getting to the heart of the campaign so it's rallies here and rallies there; Air Force base, police station, call center, and lots and lots of schools. That's where I've taken my dog and pony show lately. Hopefully along the way I've raised a little awareness and a little money.

I'm reading "The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain" by Barbara Strauch. It's subtitled "The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind." I'm still looking for those talents. The other day I got out a pair of socks and my shoes to go for a walk. Once I finished tieing my right shoe I realized I was no longer holding my left sock. I looked everywhere - even retraced my recent steps and shook out my clothes. I looked everywhere except my left foot, which is where my sock was. I had already put it on. Does anyone else scare themselves like that or is it just me? Anyone? Hello?

What was I saying? Oh yes. So the author of this book quotes Laura Carstensen, director of the Stanford Center on Longevity who said: "I'd have to say from what we know now, that the middle-aged brain is downright formidable."

Really? Can it be true? Strauch says "Most of us, while beset with a normal level of middle-aged muddle, are, in fact, quite normal. What's more, we're quite smart." OK, I like that. I'll go with that.

I do think my mind leans more towards creativity and less towards sweating the small stuff and the details. Another thought from Strauch:

"A friend who is a poet told me recently that she does not think that she could have written the poetry she does until she had reached her mid-fifties -- until her brain had reached its formidable age. 'It feels like all the pieces needed to come together,' she said. 'It's only now that my brain feels ready. It can see how the world fits together -- and make poetry out of it.'"

Hmm. Think I'll go ponder while I watch Modern Family. Now if I could only remember where I put the remote.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Deconstructing Cari

I'm pulling up the couch for this post. You're the therapist, I'm the patient.

Me: So Doc, if I hated my previous job - well, hate is a strong word - but if I was constantly super super stressed at my previous job, and I have all kinds of ideas in my head for starting my own business, and I've actually already started a nonprofit with my sister, then why am I irresistibly drawn to looking for a "real" job?

You: Well, let's explore that. How does how does that make you feel?

Me: I guess I like the security of having a paycheck and the confidence that comes with having an actual job title in an actual company that folks might recognize.

You: Good, good. And how does that make you feel?

Me: Um, insecure?

You: Now we're getting somewhere. How does that make you feel?

OK enough of the role playing. I'm about ready to punch you. You should never have become my involuntary therapist! But really, I find myself drawn like a magnet to the security and stability of a "real" job. And then there's the no health care thing.

Every time I bring this topic up with Mark he's all "I thought we already had this discussion". Well yes. Yes we did. And I'm allowed to waffle! So how do I demagnetize myself? How do I push past the need for security and free fall into a commitment to self-employment? Any ideas? Anyone?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Poke U

Go Pokes! Great game on Saturday. At least that was the general consensus. Football in any form makes my eyes roll back in my head. I used to try to be attentive - act like I care. But no. I really just don't.

The good thing about Saturday's game was that I was there in person, so the eyes stayed mainly in their sockets. I know when one of the dudes in orange appears to be running at high speed towards one of the goal posts that it's a good thing and I can cheer him on with the best of them. I know that when the old dude in the stripey pajamas puts his hands straight above his head it's a good thing. That would be a touch down and that is good news. Otherwise, I have a hard time following the ball or the game. My sister was a cheerleader one year in high school and I remember trying gamely to learn the rules. Something about first and down or fourth and down. I don't think they can go past four downs before they have to either get the stripey pajama guy to do his thing or politely give the ball to the other guys in the weird pants and Arnold Schwarzenegger shoulders.

It was a good occasion for hanging out with family though.

It was Dad's Day but we all butted in and went anyway. As my sister Shari said, "I didn't know cuteness was so important at these things." Probably because we were hanging out with the sorority bunch...or the pretty girls from the flag corp.
OSU Cousins! Do they not look like they could be sisters? I guess if their mothers are identical twins then genetically they are half sisters right? Anyone?
So other than hanging out with the beautiful people, I've just been working away saving the world one dollar at a time. The gig with United Way is going well. We mercifully finished training, have been assigned our sectors and accounts, and are busy raising those dollars. I've been assigned the entire education sector, which means I'm covering all the large school districts in the city and many of the small ones. Which is cool. Except teachers don't really get paid much here in Oklahoma and what they do get paid they spend on their students. So let's just say I'm glad I don't get paid on commission. Don't get me wrong - educators are some of the most generous people I know. But you can only squeeze a dollar so tightly before it squirts out its last penny. I'm just sayin'.
In other news, I entered a writing contest and... well, I guess that's all the other news. I should get the results in about six weeks, at which point I will have forgotten all about it.
Hope you have a great week! Hugs to all!!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The rest of the story

Let me introduce you to the children I spoke of in my last post. The ones who got off the bus just in time to witness the scuffle and cuffing of a homeless dude? Turns out those children are homeless as well. As Paul Harvey taught us, there's almost always "the rest of the story".

Yesterday I started the three month job with United Way as a Loaned Executive. We train for a week and yesterday was the first of those training days. The entire afternoon was spent riding around on a big bus and touring some of the nonprofits that are Partner Agencies and receive funds from the United Way. I thought I knew about most of the nonprofits in this city. It's sort of my thing. But no. I do not know about ALL of the nonprofits in this city. Did you know there is an elder shelter here? Did you know we needed a shelter for elderly folks fleeing abuse or neglect or who have simply been abandoned? A fragile and vulnerable senior would not survive in a typical homeless shelter, so Sunbeam Services operates a nice shelter in a home environment. They only have room for nine, and they stay pretty full.

One gentleman told us his story. While he was in the hospital for surgery (he had throat cancer) his family divided up his stuff, took all his money, and left him for dead. With nowhere to go after the surgery, he came to the elder shelter where they supported him through radiation treatment and recovery until he was able to get out on his own. He's now a dedicated volunteer and considers the Sunbeam family his family.

Then there's the woman who was abandoned by her husband. Former missionaries, they had no assets, no money, no home. Her husband apparently just drove off and left her stranded. Who does that?

Anyway, back to those kids at the library. They are from a school called Positive Tomorrows. We toured their facility and I was like, wait a minute. This name sounds really familiar. That was the name on the bus at the library. Positive Tomorrows is a school for homeless children. Here's what their website says:

Positive Tomorrows is a private, tuition-free school for homeless children,
kindergarten through 5th grade. Our students face significant academic and
social delays due to missing school and chaotic living conditions–such as living
in shelters, on the streets or bouncing from couch to couch. It’s our goal to
bring them up to speed socially and academically so that when they transition
into public school, they will be successful throughout their years in school as
well as life. When we empower them through their education, they begin to see
life outside of poverty and homelessness. Positive Tomorrows is their Sanctuary
of Hope.

And remember that I was complaining that our city needs a place for homeless folks to go during the day (other than the library) - a place where they can receive actual services and helpful support and information? Another place we toured yesterday was the office of the Homeless Alliance. They are this very moment building a day center that will house numerous agencies and support services. It will be a place where homeless folks can go during the day (they must leave the shelters for the daytime hours) to get the services they need, get out of the heat or cold, etc. How cool is that!

I just thought it was interesting how the experience and questions from a few days ago wrapped around to meet the experiences of yesterday. I have to say I was impressed by every place we visited. Good job, Oklahoma City!!