December 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
One of my favorite things about the holidays is receiving and reading Christmas letters. When I was young, our little Christmas tree shaped basket overflowed with letters by the time the 25th rolled around. And when a new one arrived in the mail–especially if it was from a notoriously obnoxious family–we would all scramble (we actually would stakeout the mailman and run to the mailbox) to read it first and laugh at their bold claims. “I can’t believe they wrote that about their kids!” I have received exactly three Christmas letters this season, and one particularly delightful one from my friend Amy, who has decided to make it a new tradition as she enters her thirties. And it got me thinking that I want to do the same.
Dear friends and family,
Here I sit on my loveseat, in sweatpants and a sweater car coat, sipping Earl Grey (which reminds me, I actually met an Earl Grey once!), and listening to Minoru Nojima, whom I have just discovered by some Twitter stalking. That seems about the appropriate setting for a Christmas letter! As of last night, the gifts are all wrapped, sans bows. They always get crushed in transit, so why bother? Also, I forgot to buy clear tape, so they are taped together with masking tape or duct tape, but my family is used to my less-than-perfect Christmas wrapping. I have been known to wrap things from my cupboards and bookshelf, and I’m happy to say this year, I have store-bought presents for everyone!
So, what’s new, you ask? I got a cold this week! It’s new, but not very noteworthy. I only hope it disappears before Christmas with the Rosengren family tomorrow.
This big news of 2011 is that I changed jobs. I learned of the Project Manager position at Clockwork right about the time my frustration with my old job hit a peak. It took many months and a series of interviews, but I started my first day on May 10th and it has been a challenging, but good, whirlwind ever since! There was–ahem, there is–a lot to learn. In my first weeks of meetings, I honestly sat typing things like SOAP and wizdels into wikipedia, just so I could grasp the meaning. It was a bit like sitting in a Moscow cafe. I understood just enough to know when to nod and chime in, but that’s about it. But seven months in now, I feel like I’ve gained an enormous amount of knowledge simply because I’ve had to. So yeah, it is a lot like going to a foreign country and being forced to learn the language. And in my mind, that’s an enjoyable thing. Oh, plus the culture of Clockwork! I love it. I’m treated like an adult, and I have tremendous respect for my leaders and peers. I’ll admit that I have days when I wonder if I should just join the Peace Corps and do something meaningful. (Oh, the Gen X/First World Problems…) But I’m glad for a boss who thinks about it too and then reminds us that working with people–in whatever capacity–is a good thing. She said it best when she said: “No, we’re not curing cancer. (Fuck! We’re not curing cancer!) But we’re not spreadsheets either. We’re human beings working with other human beings.”
What else? Well, I had a fantastic summer with Ben! Knowing he’d be leaving in September for his internship, we made a list of things to-do: roller-blading (check!), camping (check!), Duluth (check!), tennis (maybe next summer!), Valley Fair (check!) and on and on. Most weekends were spent doing what we love: reading on the couch, drinking coffee, and maybe hitting a library book sale. I am so lucky to have found such close companionship with Mr. Durbin. I’ve been out to visit him a couple times, and here’s what I’ve discovered: there’s no such thing as a quick bite to eat at the cafe or bar when your boyfriend is the town pastor! We sit down and order pizza and beer and someone will say, “You must be Ruth!”, which warms my heart. And then begins long conversations with his neighbors and it’s lovely. I must say, small town living certainly has it’s appeal from time to time.
Oh, you’re probably wondering about Vada! She turned three this fall, and had a big year herself. It was a lovely sunny Saturday when she came into the house from the deck carrying a bird in her mouth. No, she didn’t kill it, and we spent the next few hours wondering what to do with a maimed bird. And then the bat. She wasn’t very fond of the bat (and I’m sure the feelings were mutual). So with the bat and all, she got a trip to the vet who said she was very beautiful and healthy. I couldn’t agree more. And there’s nothing she loves more than playing fetch, but only with bottle caps. She’s a classy cat.
Oh dear. I’ve probably forgotten important people I’ve met, and interesting things I’ve done, but I might lose you. It’s late, and time to sign off.
The tree has been trimmed, the presents wrapped, the sheets laundered, the floor swept and cupboards cleaned. I’m ready for Christmas and company. In just a few hours, I will be going to a candlelight service at a Lutheran church and ending this Advent season of waiting for Christ to come. We will light candles as Christ brings light and hope and newness to this weary world, time and time again. For you. It’s true.
To that end, Merry Christmas to you and yours!
December 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
If you ask me to do something, I will say yes without blinking nine times out of ten. There are two ways to approach this response. The negative point of view would say that I am a people pleaser, which would not be all together incorrect. But, to put a positive spin on it, one might say I am an opportunist. Eager for new experiences. Excitable. And it’s true that I am all these things, good and bad.
For months, seven to be exact, I have been engaged in the smart versus dumb phone debate. I accepted a position at a web development company and I didn’t own a smartphone. In fact, I still don’t. I think I might be one of two persons in a company of 50+ that has not upgraded to the glass-plated finger-manipulated pocket-sized personal computer. Ahem, the smartphone.
Some call it the short bus phone, the dumb phone, the feature phone. Up until seven months ago, I called it my cell phone. When I didn’t want to take myself too seriously, I called it my cellular. My mobile. (I know, I should go on the road with this stuff.) A couple months after starting my new job, I hopped in the car with my boss to get lunch downtown. She couldn’t remember the exact location of her friend’s food stand, and said, “Hey, Ruth, will you look up the address?” I paused, looked at my lap and said, “Well, I could text google.” “What, you don’t have a smartphone, Rosengren? We didn’t ask you that in the interview process?” We laughed, sure, but there is truth in jest.
Verizon recently notified me that I am due for an upgrade. I can purchase a iPhone 4 for $69, or an iPhone 4s for $169. And then I’d have to upgrade my monthly talk/text/data plan from $54.99 to $89.99. And I am left with the question: is it worth it? Sure thirtysome odd dollars a month isn’t going to break the bank, but that’s not the point. Do I need it?
Ugh. Need is an ugly word indeed, because after studying Emerson’s essay On Nature, I know what I need. And it’s warmth, shelter and food. And then love.
I am in front of a computer for 10 hours a day, if not more. I have wireless internet connection at work and at home. When I’m away from my computer, I have learned a handful of SMS texts to retrieve (or deliver) information. Text 466453 (GOOGLE) for the weather, for a definition, an address, almost anything and get a response. Text 48368 (GVENT) and add an event to your Google calendar. Text 32665 to update your Facebook status. Text 40404 to tweet. Text 368266 (DOTCOM) to checkin to Foursquare.
Yes, there are limitations. Yes, I nearly squeal when I think about getting an iPhone and all of the apps I would use. I’m not a luddite and I’m not saying I won’t end up purchasing a talking phone after my rant, but this article has given me pause.
While I say yes rather quickly, I do continue to think about it. Do I want an iPhone? Of course. But will this tool address a need by amplifying my capabilities? I don’t know.