The little bits and pieces of my internal life.

From the Mosaic
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Frostbitten Hoseheads

Here's to you, Edmontonians. I saw Weird Al Yankovic with you last night, and you knew EVERY WORD to Canadian Idiot. Every single word. And you sang, loudly and proudly, in your cute accents.

Also, when Weird Al sang "Albuquerque," he made himself a Tim Hortons Employee of the Month.

My only disappointment is that there were no Canadian Idiot T-shirts. I had to settle for White & Nerdy (and who could argue with that?).


Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Everything You Think You Know Is Wrong

What a mad, mad, mad year it's been.

If you're reading this and you think nothing in my life has changed since my last post, well, I'm sorry; I've tried to let a lot of people know, but it's been exhausting. Rather, I have been exhausted. Exhausted, and afraid, and depressed. But now I'm ready to start being myself again.

At any rate, my husband and I separated last fall; our divorce will be final in September. We remain good, close friends, for which I am extremely grateful. I don't care to discuss the reasons in depth. It's enough to know that, as is inevitable when separating after ten years, I certainly own my share of responsibility for what went wrong, and I deeply regret the mistakes I've made. I wish him the absolute best in all things going forward.

A definite factor in our breakup was the insane amount of stress I was under at my previous job as a software license manager at a semiconductor company that kept failing to make a profit. I finally couldn't take it any more and left that job in January. It was a shame, because I really liked the work. However, I've got a job now that I really like -- I'm a software licensing consultant! I work for a software company that is a market leader in licensing systems, and I travel around North America (mostly) advising software license managers on methods to get their costs under control, as well as installing and configuring software to do precisely that.

I've been all over the place since January. Sometimes the locations are kinda lame: Racine, Wisconsin, or Batesville, Indiana. Sometimes the locations are AWESOME: Manhattan! Australia! But wherever I go, I can generally find some way to make the most out of it. I'm blogging from Edmonton today; I went last night to the Taste of Edmonton festival, and tomorrow I'm going to see Weird Al at Capital Ex.

I love what I do, because I love meeting new people, and I love working with geeks, and I love solving people's problems, and I love instant gratification, and in this job I get to do all of that. I'm damned lucky. Of course, a lot of people burn out after six months in this kind of job, and that's the threshold I've just reached, so we'll see.

I'm also in business school, still, and that's kept me out of trouble and off the streets.

I had to go into counseling, though. I felt for a while like I was completely losing my mind. My employer provides a counseling hotline (I'm now seeing a live person through Kaiser), and when I called, they said "you're getting divorced, you just moved, you started a new job with 75% travel that you've never done before, and you're in business school? And you want to know why you're depressed and nonfunctional?" Um, yeah. It's obvious now that you mention it.

But good news: I'm starting, finally, to heal emotionally. I may still be jumping into things too soon, but for the record I'm dating this guy, and it seems to be working out nicely for both of us.

I won't make false promises about when I'll blog again. Not any more. I know damn well that I have no time. :-) But hopefully I'll drop a line from wherever I go next.


Friday, May 12, 2006
This Just In: Qwest Isn't Evil

Apparently, Qwest is the only major phone company which has not meekly handed over its domestic call records to the NSA.

Big Brother is Listening

I will admit that I wasn't a fan while I lived in Colorado, but I'm willing to forgive.

Three cheers for Qwest!
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Poem: Love Song for Adam

Raise up your head, and look me in the eye
So that I can see how genes and neurons
And the broken waste of long-exploded suns
Braid into the fiber, the wick of alchemy
From grossest fuel to most sublime soul.

Stand before me, and do not be afraid
That I can see the scars of too many harsh days,
The faint trembling of imperfect weakness,
The gray hairs, the crow's feet,
And the wisdom of a life lived on earth, not in heaven.

Today is for you, beloved one:
Let me do for you what you insist I need.

Let me praise your name throughout the worlds,
For without you there would be no dreams,
No hopes of tomorrow, no yesterdays of pain,
No movement save only blind fumbling,
No change without ruthless destruction.

Let me honor you, who have worked so hard,
The one who strives first for purity,
Second for mercy,
And finally, at the end of faith, for redemption.

When angels fall, they fall forever,
But your hope is eternal,
Your will is indomitable,
And the distance behind you so vast
That you look at your home and your family
And think that perhaps you are a changeling,
Begotten not of flesh and blood
But instead of quicksilver thoughts
And blinding passions and resolve like iron.

How can you think, still, that you do not deserve me?
How can you hold such triumph in your hands,
Build things which no dwarf or fairy ever dreamed,
And love, through all the trials of entropy,
And still not be content? But discontent itself
Endears you to me, for nothing else in all the stars
Knows to care
Or cares to know.

Just for one day, let me take your burden
So that you may stand tall on feet of clay,
So that you can raise your head and look into my eyes
And see how much I love you.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
New Year, New Post

Hello friends,

It's been a very long time. Too long, really. There are a number of reasons for my recent silence, and some of them are even good!

I'm writing this during a break from class. It's my second quarter of MBA work, and this morning I've got statistics. Microeconomics this afternoon. Taking all this stuff... well, not statistics so much since I took it just last year, but the rest is curious. In some ways it takes me back to being an undergraduate, but more often it reminds me of how far I, and the rest of the world, have come. Eleven years ago I wouldn't have had a laptop on which to type, nor, frankly, would I have had the wisdom to appreciate the difference even if I had.

More to the point, my company was recently spun off from its parent in an IPO. Normally this wouldn't make much difference to the job of an engineer, but by the time the dust settled I was no longer an engineer; I was instead promoted to manage the new CAD licensing group, which meant my day-to-day job was all about getting the contracts straightened out so that we could spin off cleanly.

As you might imagine, between going to school, a new job, and an unusually busy time in that job, time for blogging has been somewhere between none and zero.

I'’m not entirely creatively stifled, though. I just finished Freakonomics, a light read, but a fun one. Next up is Consciousness Explained; we'll see if it lives up to the title.

I've also got some stuff to write about. Unfortunately for the blog, a lot of my creative energy ends up being funneled into entrepreneurial concepts. I think it's a consequence of business school. I'll be daydreaming about gods know what, and suddenly it will coalesce into some wild-assed scheme. Now if I could just come up with a way to make money off of turning my daydreams into wild-assed schemes, I’d be getting somewhere.

Nonetheless, it'’s definitely not yet all about the Benjamins for me. I've spent a ludicrous amount of time pondering conventional ethics and how they could be improved. My husband thinks I'm wasting my time, but everyone needs a hobby, right?

Current vices: Civilization 4 and, as always, Magic: The Gathering Online. I could be geekier in my vices, but it’s hard to see how!

I do pledge to once again review all the Best Picture Oscar nominees. It'’s the one time in the year I set foot in a theater, and I’m not giving it up just because I'm a little busy. :-)

Until next time,
Friday, August 05, 2005
Barracks of Christ: Update

My friend Eric posted his own penetrating thoughts on "Soldiers of Christ".

I agree with him that evangelicals as a class are motivated by love, even though in practice it ends up horribly counterproductive. I really think that, for instance, Pat Robertson wants only the best for me. It's just that he's woefully wrong about what that is, and he lacks the humility to accept my judgment and exercise of free will at face value. Is he some sort of existentialist who believes that I am living an inauthentic lifestyle?
Barracks of Christ

As a former resident of both Colorado Springs and the Atlanta exurbs, I was interested to read this article in Harper's, Soldiers of Christ.

Some of this article is unfair. Any group of 12,000 that doesn't require an entrance test is going to have some whack jobs in it, and the fact that the author managed to find a guy who thought his pastor was Gandalf is probably not indicative of much. But other things I found shocking: the literal belief in demon contagion and, especially, the violent imagery of the teaching.

What interested me the most about the article was, well, two things really. One is the idea of spirituality as a commodity, as something that can benefit from free-market competition and innovation. The New Life Church has become successful in part because it offers choices, at least superficially. Could this method be used for more benevolent ideologies?

The other thing is the utter lack of humility. I'm not a Christian, but I'd been under the impression that the central teaching of Christianity was that humankind was fallen and sinful and could only redeemed by the forgiving power of Christ, not by showy demonstration of wealth and power. But New Life Church, it seems to me, has dispensed with all the tedious good news of the Gospel and has gone straight to the time of final judgment.
Sunday, July 31, 2005
Mmm, Sweet and Tasty Admission

I've been admitted to the UC Davis MBA program! Woo!

So, let's do a brief roundup of My Life Since Mid-June:

I did, of course, apply to Davis, and they invited me to interview, which I did on July 15. I had to schedule it so late because...

My parents were here the second week of July, and I didn't want the interview to interfere. A good time was had by all; for my part, I'm finally old enough now that I don't by default start acting like a teenager when I'm around them, which is undoubtedly easier on everyone. Lots of wine, the Obon Festival in San Jose Japantown, good food, good company, and discussion of the Tour de France -- nearly a perfect week. And my mother loves Jasper, and it's mutual, so it was all good.

So I interviewed at Davis on the 15th, and gave a little talk on the history of the Zinfandel grape (they told me the presentation could be on anything so long as it was "not too technical," so I decided to be as non-technical as possible). Then I came back to the office where I'd been working furiously all week on a part that was about to be released from the department, and spent all weekend there. At least I have a sort-of excuse for my lameness in blogging.

And on Wednesday, I got the Magic Packet, with the beautiful, beautiful letter:

"Dear Natalie:

Congratulations! You have been admitted to the Charter Class of the Bay Area MBA Program for Working Professionals." Etc., etc., send us money pronto so we can be sure you're serious.

I have orientation on September 17 and classes start on September 30 (it's every other weekend, Friday and Saturday) and I'm so stoked about going I can hardly stand it!

It's an enormous load off my mind. I feel like suddenly my whole life is ahead of me, grand sweeping vistas of I know not what.

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  • Index of Current Titles

    Frostbitten Hoseheads

    Everything You Think You Know Is Wrong

    This Just In: Qwest Isn't Evil

    Poem: Love Song for Adam

    New Year, New Post

    Barracks of Christ: Update

    Barracks of Christ

    Mmm, Sweet and Tasty Admission

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