Boomsday : Christopher Buckley

Wowee, I’ve been gone for a while, and longer from reviewing a book. I’ve read a few since the last one I reviewed, but I’ve been crazy busy with life matters. Since my last review, I sold my house, moved to another state, and started a new job, oh and bought another house, which we will be moving into in about 12 days, meaning I’m sure I’ll stumble again with a regular blog post.

So let’s get this ball rolling in the right direction again. I just finished reading Boomsday by Christopher Buckley, who is the author probably best known for Thank You For Smoking, the 2005 movie with Aaron Eckhart. Although I didn’t read that book, I assume it would have the same tone as Boomsday, because as I read the book, I recalled parts of the movie, mainly from the dialogue and the overall tone of the book.

This story follows Cassandra Devine, a 29-year old, who finds her world quickly changing directions when her dad decides to use her college tuition money plus the family mortgage as startup money for a business. This creates a permanent rupture in her and her father’s relationship and she takes his actions out on all baby boomers. She comes to the conclusion that the baby boomers are causing, and will cause, her generation enormous amounts of financial pain, and possible ruin, because they now live longer than they used to.

She enlists in the military with the idea of getting college paid for through public service. She goes into the Public Affairs career field, which leads her to a deployment to the Middle East, escorting distinguished visitors from the U.S. around the base. Her world again takes a turn when she meets Randy Jepperson, a young and defiant senator who disregards all protocols. She and Randy end up getting blown up and an IED. Both her and Jepperson survive, but she is booted out of the military and is left jobless in the hospital back in the U.S. She is approached soon after by Jepperson, who offers her a job in his office.

The shenanigans persue and her desire to push her agenda is let loose.

Overall I thought the book was entertaining. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a political satire fiction book, as I usually steer away from books with any hint of politics, but I enjoyed this. A lot of times I found myself chuckling thinking, ‘It’s funny because it’s true’. But sadly a lot of it is true. I could see the makers of House of Cards reading these books before writing the series.

Rating: 8/10

A home is more than a home

We are looking at listing our house next week. Typing that, plus packing up boxes into a storage unit, makes this feel very real.

I know I’ll miss friends. We’ve made just a few here, but they will be missed. I’ve found a new love of food, especially the smoked meat varietals. Texas knows meat, especially brisket. I’ve found a new love for beer. Austin can brew. I’ve learned to appreciate the hill country and it’s arid, green-dappled landscapes. I’ve learned what it’s like to be a proud Texan and love Texas. There’s a pride going on here that people make fun of sometimes, but only because they don’t understand it. I’ll always remember that.  Continue reading “A home is more than a home”

Working on patience

We would like to move. We’ve been working on moving for a while now. On many occasions I’ve gotten impatient with the progress. I’ve started to focus so much on waiting for news, looking for a place to live, cleaning the house, getting it ready to list….that I’ve forgotten about everything else in life.

As important as it is to have the house looking nice for pictures, I don’t want to look back after we’ve moved (and I know it’ll eventually happen), thinking only about how much time I spent cleaning, not on any of the things we loved about Austin.

We recently made a list of a handful of restaurants we want to hit up one more time before we leave. So far we’ve hit none of them. This week and going forward, we’ll be refocusing our efforts on enjoying our time where we are before it’s gone. I’ve been in those moments of regret, looking back, thinking about how focused I was on the future, forgetting about my present. There will be plenty of time to wrap myself in those moments later.

Less dreaming and focusing on the future, and what may be, and more focusing on the here and now, while I’m still right here.

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An accidental addition

Thursdays are my volunteer days. I go to work, then drive to the library to shelve books and help people out for a couple of hours. It’s a routine. I like it.

This past Thursday rocked my routine. We’d just finished an inspection at work, so I was outside, getting some fresh air in between rain storms. A co-worker had been walking outside as well so we started talking and he said he heard a cat. I waved him off, thinking it was a bird. But the sound persisted and I started the search for this cat, or bird,  or catbird.

Nestled under a small bush, I spotted small flecks of white and brown. Then the eyes found me. “Jeff, it is a cat!” I said to him. He went in to grab a box and towel and I kept an eye on her. Rain started to come down, and soon enough, Jeff came with a box. I’m not sure what happen to mom, or any of her siblings, (another co-worker said she saw this cat alone in the early morning hours as well), but mom taught her some good survival skills before they were separated. She darted around me when I tried to pick her up and bolted towards the parking garage. Luckily, she’s so young she ended up cornering herself. Jeff tried to grab her but she hissed, which made him recoil, leaving her to run past him. I quickly darted in front of her before she could head out into the main road, and Jeff was able to pick her up. At this point, she was tired and scared. She smooshed herself into the corner of the box as much as she could and gave a couple more hisses.

Luckily, this happened to be right around quitting time, so I was able to take her home at that moment.

Fast forward to Friday – we luckily also already had an appointment with the vet for our dogs so we took the crew over and got her squeezed in for an appointment as well. The vet thought her to be around five weeks old, she weighed around 450 grams (less than a pound), and was slightly dehydrated but healthy otherwise. They were able to help her go to the bathroom and eat, and all the vet techs paraded her around the building.

She’s now back home and doing wonderfully. She’s already figured out how to jump out of a large box, so her home is now our office, until she gets a bit bigger (and is formally introduced to our other cat). Our dogs are smitten with her and I believe they already think of her as a little sister.

Things rarely turn out how you have them planned, and usually things come at the worst timing. We are working on putting our house up for sale, which means a few projects to finish and tons of packing and cleaning. This is not the easiest time to raise a kitten, but I wouldn’t ever give her up for convenience.

So without further ado, here is little Edith:

 

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And it wouldn’t be fair to post pics of only the new kitty. Frasier is our other cat. He’s mostly a backyard cat, no matter the conditions, as you can see. When we had more cats, he loved to be around them, so I’m hoping he’ll take to little Edith well. Here’s hoping.

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Don’t wait

I got a text this morning that my Grandfather died. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure how to process it. I’m not an outwardly emotional person but this weighed on me, for many reasons.

I only found out within the last couple of months that he had been sick. So sick that they’d put him in hospice care; that dreadful word that everyone knows means you’re on your death bed. My dad or his wife had texted me (they share a phone) as they do almost daily to tell me how the weather is in their part of the state, but this time it told me that he had gotten out of hospice and was doing better. I was taken aback. I hadn’t known that he was sick. I know he is in his 80s, but still had no idea that death had stopped by to loiter. Besides being shocked at this news, I was angry. Angry at my dad for not passing on the news to me earlier. We hadn’t had much of a relationship since he left when I was a teen, but I kind of figured he would have said something, and angry at myself for never checking in as often as I should. It usually was my grandmother calling me, seeing how I was doing and telling me how much she missed me, and me saying how much we want to visit, which is always true.

These moments, although have luckily been rare in my life, fill me up with regret. Regret at waiting for that moment to travel to see them. Regret at not staying in contact. Regret at having my pride get in the way, waiting for them to call me.

Logic can’t always win at these things either. The husband has more reason and tells me to go see them. As my regret hits, my logic fights with me and says it’s too expensive. We have car repairs and new tires coming up. Something is messing with the cruise control in the other car, yada yada. But the husband reminds me that money cannot substitute for seeing family. That I’ll regret not getting out there. As unfortunate as a funeral is, it’s sometimes the only way we see family.

I don’t want to look back at this and add to my regrets. Time to plan a flight.

Crossroads

When life starts pulling you apart, what do you do? Until today, we were at a crossroads. Both of us had job offers come our way. Sounds great at first, but the jobs are not in the same place. One is out of state. The out of state job would have been much more of a challenge up front because moving takes a lot of time, effort and money, but it would have brought us closer to our family and friends, and most likely would have lent to a less chaotic life a large city provides. The other offer would keep us here where we are, and give a good pay boost (not as good as the other one), but would help out, and possibly help enough so that we can at least fly home every once in a while instead of driving 19+ hours. Continue reading “Crossroads”

Changes, changes

I’m not good with changes to be honest. Not fast ones anyway. My personality requires me to take an idea and play with it. Give me time, some internet, coffee, and good music and I’ll probably be willing to hop on board with whatever comes my way. But when changes start shooting at me with records speeds, my brain goes into overdrive, then shutdown mode.

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My personality dislikes chaos and untimely changes

I was just informed I have to be gone for a month for training starting way too soon. I thought I wasn’t going to go to this school so it was quite the surprise when I got the message. My brain starts to immediately make lists upon lists to try to drain all the traffic going on inside . One list for what I need to do at home before I leave, one list to prep for the course, one list for packing, etc. Then I start to think about how this is going to work with my job, and the fact that I’d just put out some job feelers. I guess those prospects are probably gone if they try to communicate with me in the next few weeks.

I’m trying to reprogram my brain to stay calm with these quick changes. It’s part of being in the military family, whether part-time or full, you have to expect short notice. I wrote down a couple of my lists with plenty of room to add more, and stepped away from my work desk for a while. I made a couple of phone calls to let people know what was going on, then went back to working like nothing had changed. I needed some normalcy mixed in with the crazy. So far it seems to be working. Stay calm, work it out, it’ll be fine. *Breathe*. Embrace the change, embrace the suck. You help steer the outcome and your attitude.

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it- Chuck Swindoll (2)

Like Chucky boy says, some things I can’t change, but I can change how I react. I took some aspirin, downed some iced green tea, I’m writing in WordPress, then I’m on to the next box to check off. One at a time.

Encouragement & a Hedgehog

This last week or so has been trying. It seems like everyone has been on edge and people have had a problem with just about everything I did at work. Well last week, I said Enough! And I still believe that now. The week ended badly but the weekend was good and I intend for this week to go well too. Besides getting outside in the beautiful Texas weather, we got the house cleaned up, I sold a couple of items hanging around the house, we worked out, tried a new restaurant, and I applied for a job, and am 90% done with another application (I forgot how time consuming they were). It’s going to be a short week in the office (which is always a good thing), and then we fly out to see some friends in Phoenix!

But until then, I have to go to work, be productive, deal with some nasty attitudes, and work on the final stages of my guard training. Fortunately, no more tests, I’ve passed them all, but now I have writing to do. Not fun writing, like, If You Could Be Any Animal in the World, What Would You Be? (An Eagle or a Hawk), but more like, Write your Biography and Talk about Yourself. Ugh.

But I can make it through this week. I won’t let negative people affect me with their cancerous attitudes and I’ll press on with this writing so I have the free time while I’m on vacation. For some encouragement, I found this great picture.

Enjoy!

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Courage

I have this feeling that there’s going to be a lot of change in 2016. I have a lot of training to go through, certifications to attain, and we may possibly be moving to another state.

Change is curious to me. I can handle change at work just fine, but change in the home life is stressful. Fear overtakes me and every worst case scenario comes crashing down.

I don’t do resolutions, but I do want to change the way approach….change.

Instead of intense fear of something unknown, I want to change it into excitement for something new.

Instead of thinking about everything that could go wrong, I want to think about what could go right.

Instead of cowering and feeling timid, I want to reach out with courage.

Maybe it’s naive to think this way, but sitting in the dark puddle of cynicism and self-doubt doesn’t really come with any benefits, so why not try the high road for once?

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Importance

The holidays always pose as a time of reflection and solitude, although sometimes the solitude part can be difficult in the mad rush of gift getting and travel plans. We decided to surprise the family with a trip up north. This included a lot of sneaking around questions, pretending the presents were on their way, and a 20 hour road trip with two dogs. We got Dylan’s brother in the loop so he could help us plan where to be. The look on my mom and his parent’s faces were priceless, and the feeling of being home during Christmas-time, was a feeling I haven’t felt in a long time. A feeling of warmth and contentment, even after an exhaustive trip. We realized again how important being near old friends and family is, and although it’ll be sad to leave Austin, with it’s nearly unlimited supply of restaurants, things to do and things to see, and usually great weather, but if you can learn to be content in any situation, decisions like these aren’t as difficult.

We decided to make the slow move to Omaha. Omaha, you say? Why you ask? I know I wrote a little before about Omaha, but expanding on it won’t hurt. I’m sure there’s a lot of people laughing or wondering why you’d move to a “flyover state”.

Well…Omaha is a good size city. Around a half million people and under a million with metro. The city did a good job prepping for growth, so the roads aren’t packed and traffic jams are rare. Here in Austin, they’re an everyday occurrence and something to be expected.

Omaha is 6 hours to home in Minnesota so getting to visit will be much easier and we won’t need to use so much vacation each time. It’s also 9 hours to Denver for rock climbing and hiking, 9 hours to Little Rock, where some friends of ours lives, and hours away to the badlands of South Dakota. Overall, being in the center of the country gives us a wider berth for more diverse travel. Yeah, we won’t be near a beach, but I think we can handle that.

Omaha’s cost of living is good. Housing costs are much lower in Omaha than Austin and overall prices of a night out on the town is lower as well. Getting to a nice restaurant (which there are many), is much easier and less stressful. In Austin, there are hundreds of great restaurants, but there’s usually a line, or it will take you an hour to get to it due to the terrible traffic. I’d miss the beer and bar scene here in Austin, but Omaha’s scene is starting to grow. There are a few good breweries there, as well as one of the nation’s top pubs in the nation. The job market is good and the pay for our lines of work is good, and actually a little better than here in Austin.

So there’s a few points in a nutshell. I’m excited, but nervous and scared. Big change is always nerve wracking for me, especially after spending four years in a new place. The thought of uprooting again feels exhausting, but if I think about what it will mean for us financially, personally, and even professionally, I think it will be a great thing. Fear will always be there. I just have to make sure it doesn’t control my decisions.

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