Reimagining The Worst: Corporate Slogans For The Era Of Now

Inspired by such popular slogans as “Rethink possible” and “We are the reinventors of normal,” I’ve been brainstorming my own list of similar phrases, should I ever need to pitch one to someone. Add your own in the comments.

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Update! I shared this on Facebook and got these excellent additions to the list:

  • Engineering Purpose
  • Dismantling Impossible
  • Be Excellent To Each Other
  • Putting Great Back On The Table
  • Clearing The Calendar Of “Why?”
  • Find Renewable Amazing
  • Re-Engineer Your Potential

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You Can Go Home Again, And Again

SGF, Simon and I done packed up and moved back to Dallas — again.

Though we had several good reasons for making this move — among them proximity to family, an incredible job opportunity and improved quality of life — leaving proved to be emotionally painful to me, and two months later, I still feel pangs when I think about New York and the people I love there.

My last job lasted a mere one year and two months. I can say with utter sincerity and great satisfaction that I devoted myself entirely to that publication and, more important, to my colleagues there. I have been fond of coworkers in the past. I sobbed bitterly upon leaving the paper so many years ago, and my first company in New York was staffed with some of the finest people I’ve ever known. But never have I grown so attached to a team so quickly as I did with this last bunch. Many of them were young women, including the superior team I was fortunate to manage. Part of the pain of leaving is knowing I won’t get to watch in person as they grow.

So now I am back in Texas, at my old paper but in a new and exciting position, and somehow I have won the coworker lottery again. People have asked me whether it’s “weird” to be back, and the answer is no. It feels completely natural and right to walk those halls again. My colleagues have been incredibly warm and welcoming. The energy among us is good. I’m happy to be a part of it. I’ve loved reconnecting with old friends, and I’m looking forward to knowing some of the newer people better.

“Home” is a somewhat complicated concept for me. Texas is technically home now — my folks are here, much of my history is here, etc. But New York is every bit as much my home. Probably it’s the same with most transplants — the life I had there was all the more special because I made it myself, from scratch. I wasn’t born into my family there — I built it. And truly nothing will ever replace it.

Were I in New York right now, I’d be pining for Texas. In Texas, I am pining — to an extent — for New York. I suspect it will be this way forever.

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Can Neil Armstrong Unite America Again?

Neil Armstrong died Saturday at age 82. He was the first man to walk on the moon, and to many Americans, he was a hero. He was a hero to me.

During the 1960s, the U.S. space program was something everyone in our country was excited about, even during a time of tremendous turmoil (Vietnam, the civil rights and women’s rights movements, etc.). The space race brought us together. We were proud to be Americans. Proud to win.

I was born in the 1970s, and I remember vividly the great excitement of watching each shuttle launch. I remember my third-grade teacher sobbing openly when the Challenger exploded. Fast forward to 2003, when the Columbia met the same fate over Texas. I was working my normal Saturday shift that day at the paper. The mood was subdued, but there were no tears — I think in part because we were all focused on the task at hand (getting the news out) but also because America had already started to change.

Armstrong’s death saddens me. What’s happening to America saddens me. Maybe, on the eve of the Republican and Democratic conventions, we can remember what it was like to be united — and feel compelled to get to that place again.

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Get Mama’s Prying Bar

Save for one ill-advised but well-intentioned day at the office Wednesday, I have not left the house since Sunday. I haven’t been upright all that much, either. I feel very much like Lisa Simpson in the episode where she fears she carries the Simpson Gene (only I am not obese yet, and I’ve been working instead of watching my stories).

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Blather, Wince And Repeat

Perhaps when I announced a renewed commitment to blogging I should have gone with a less aggressive goal of posting once a week. Ah well.

Guess what? I haven’t been playing piano every day, either, though I have been playing about every other day. I am rediscovering a phenomenon from way back when: When I’m struggling with a passage despite repeated drills — and by the way, there truly is no better outlet for someone with OCD tendencies than playing a musical instrument, or perhaps golf — I find it far easier to play if I come back after a day or two. So maybe I shouldnt feel too bad about short lapses.

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This is apropos of nothing, but one day at work a colleague mentioned she’d been having dreams about multiple cats, all of which look basically the same. I’ve had that same dream (in mine I’m usually trying to find Simon among a large group of interloping Simon imposters, some of which I suspect to be disease-ridden and violence-prone) at least once a week for more than a decade, and as it so happens, another of the editors within earshot also has this dream regularly. And yet, I never see it in the “literature” about dreams and their interpretations. Why is that?

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Yesterday, when I was too tired to do anything but lie in bed all day, I read Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes. Taubes has caught plenty of hell for “cherry-picking” data to make his case against sugar, but you know what? I mostly buy his argument. I’ve felt my healthiest and most even-keeled during periods of moderate to severe carbohydrate restriction, so I’m having another go at it. On the menu tonight: steak and spinach salad. The first couple of days of low-carb dieting are blissful until someone comes along and offers you a cookie or margarita. Let us see if the willpower holds up this time.

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This Is The House We Used To Live In

When we first found the Belmont duplex, we thought we’d hit the jackpot.

It was a lovely stone house on a leafy street in the Lakewood neighborhood, an area notable for its mature foliage, historic homes and proximity to White Rock Lake. The price was a little steep for Dallas, but it seemed more than worth it, because it was in an ideal location close to my new job downtown, and it had all the amenities we’d longed for in New York — off-street parking, a dishwasher, one-and-a-half bathrooms, a washer and dryer, wood, tile and brick flooring (crucial for me, because of my damned allergies), and front, back and side porches. A picture window that took up most of the front-facing wall in the living room was one of 17 windows in the place. Seventeen windows! And not one of them looked out onto an ugly Dumpster!

We were thrilled to have found this place, and eager to lock in a two-year lease. We quickly discovered, however, that it wasn’t exactly utopia, starting with the night we moved in.

They say that animals sense when things aren’t quite right, and Simon’s behavior that first night was alarming and, as it turns out, probably a sign that something was terribly wrong with our new home. After I unzipped his carrier, he made a bee line for the office, a cool little room with french doors, a small closet and a ceiling fan. I heard pawing and snuffling, and when I entered the room, I found him in the corner, transfixed by an invisible presence. Thinking he’d found some kind of unfamiliar bug, I tried to move him to the side for a better look. He hissed at me for the first and only time in the more than 13 years since I’ve known him. Nothing was there.

Shortly thereafter, we noticed the spiders. They were everywhere, their webs, nests and egg sacs occupying every corner in the house. Bad luck be damned, I went after them, mercilessly sucking them up with the vacuum, brushing away webs with my broom — and still I’d find more. They descended from the ceiling like paratroopers. The battle lasted for days, but eventually I won. And then the mosquitoes came.

My landlord liked to keep potted plants and trees around the perimeter of the house, and he was, shall we way, rather lax about draining standing water. I despise mosquitoes with a red-hot fury most people reserve for terrorists and the IRS, and so for weeks I hunted for offending vessels, upending them, spilling their fetid contents and watching the greenish brown fluid pool briefly before seeping into the ground to nourish the weeds that grew between the cracks. I won this battle, too.

But something else had taken up residence in that house. Something that I had no power to eliminate. It sounds crazy, but that house was haunted.

We heard things in the night: bumps, thuds, creaks, etc. All of these are, I have heard, sounds we should expect in an older, settling home. What I didn’t expect, though, was the pitter-patter of little feet.

Most nights Chris and I would hear this, and the first couple of times we thought it might be Simon trotting into the bedroom. We’d call to him, asking him to “come here,” his signal to jump into the bed. He didn’t — because he wasn’t in the room. As we’d soon find out, Simon wouldn’t enter the room. Something about that bedroom spooked him, and in the entire time we lived in that duplex, he crossed the threshold maybe four times. This is a cat who up to that point, and for every night since we moved back to New York, spent at least part of every night either curled at my feet on the bed or snuggled close to my chest. Not in the Belmont house, though.

One night Chris went to a sleep center. We’ve been fortunate in our time together to have jobs that don’t require travel. I can count on one hand the number of nights I’ve slept alone. A friend came over to keep me company that night, and we talked until well past midnight. I passed out shortly after she left but slept fitfully. When Chris returned in the wee hours that morning, Simon was mewing plaintively. I checked his water bowl: full. His food bowl: full. And then I checked his litter box. It was turned toward the wall, so that the entrance was blocked.

Not even a month later, I emerged from the bedroom in the morning to find Chris on the couch, awake and confused. “What is that perfume you’re wearing?” he asked. He’d been awakened earlier by the sensation of wind blowing through his hair. He drifted back to sleep, and when he came to, the air was thick with a woman’s fragrance. I don’t wear perfume.

Then Simon got sick. He’d overcome an acute illness (now a chronic disease managed with medication) back in 2007 but had been in impeccable shape since then. One day he just stopped eating, and we scrambled for a reason why. Had he eaten one of his toys? Had he developed an allergy to his favorite food, which he’d eaten every day for nearly four years? His illness came shortly after we’d decided to move back to New York, and we were struggling to get him healthy before the long drive.

After thousands of dollars worth of tests, the vets couldn’t determine the problem. We took him to a specialist, who said his symptoms were consistent with FIV, so he tested him, and it came back positive. I was devastated, but also convinced they were wrong. Simon had tested negative for FIV more than a decade earlier, and he’d had zero contact with other cats since then. Three days and more than a thousand miles later, I had him retested in New York, and the result was negative. Ultimately they decided he had an overgrowth of toxoplasma, an organism that lives for a relatively short time in soil and cat feces. How did little Simon, who ultimately recovered beautifully with time and drugs, fall ill because of this?

The day before we surrendered our keys to our landlord, I was cleaning the floors in our empty house, and I heard the blinds moving in the office. For close to a year they’d been doing this, and when we’d hear them, we’d assume Simon was pawing at them, only to enter the room and find him sitting innocently on the couch. By this point, the cat was recovering from his various tests at my parents’ house. The fans and the air conditioner were both off, and there was no wind outside to cause a draft. I was alone, but I’m confident I was not.

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In Defense Of Dallas

I had a lovely little post all prepared related to this essay from The Dallas Morning News, but my WordPress app ate it.

Sarah Hepola’s words ring 100% true with me. I guess I’ll leave it at that.

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