December 30, 2004

So, after I wrote that little post about the places I have been in Asia I felt like it probably seemed trivializing and rather flippant about disaster. I didn’t mean to sound that way at all. Actually when I heard what happened and as the days have passed I have been partly in shock at the destruction that has been wrecked by the earth’s whims and the weather. I painted my bathroom yesterday and listened to NPR the whole time, fascinated by the news and in sickened awe at what is happening on the other side of the world.

A few thoughts come to mind. It’s very surreal to have memories of a place that no longer exists. One of my favorite times was hanging out on an island called Ko Phi Phi in south Thailand (off the city of Phuket’s shores) in 2000 when I was on vacation from my year in China. About 8 of us hung out, laid on the beach, ate endless fruit smooties of the freshest pineapples and mangos imaginable and just enjoyed time together on a little island totally focused on tourism. The people were sweet and helpful and the tourists were mostly European. We stayed in quaint little huts with mattresses on the floor and hoards of mosquitos at certain hours of the day. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I snorkeled there for the first time, seeing amazing fish and getting stung by lots of little jellyfish. I remember a woman who had a little laundry service down the road from our cottage. I remember chatting with another woman who with a few computers and an erratic internet connection ran a business. I remember banana pancakes and coffee for breakfast watching BBC news before hitting the beach. I heard the name of that exact island today on the news – they said it was completely destroyed. I’m not sure how many hundreds of Thai people lived on that island, running little internet cafes, coffee shops, snorkeling trips, beachwear stalls and restaurants. They may be mostly dead now. How surreal, how terrible, how?

I haven’t been able to find out if there was any damage in the little town of Sivikasi, India that I spent some time in last fall. I’m not sure exactly how far we were from the coast, but I think they are probably safe. The idea of that school and those kids being washed away in a flood is totally unimaginable, but I know it happened in countless other towns in numerous coasts around the world.

I think right now if I had the resources and less committments I would fly to India or Thailand or Indonesia and volunteer. I’m sure there are countless other Americans like me, who having been to these places, cannot imagine the thought of them wiped out. I always imagined going back to Ko Phi Phi sometime on a dream vacation. But there never seems to be a limit on the suffering and constant change that the world tosses at us. I just hope and pray that the world will come together to make some good out of this tragedy.



December 28, 2004

Ahh.. my computer doesn’t work. I’ve never had a computer “crash” before but it appears that my computer has crashed. No word yet on whether I will have the 4.5 years of data saved on there when it returns to life, but right now I can’t get past booting up. I will not be able to write any meaningful thought-provoking blogs from the Qdoba office unfortunately, but don’t stop checking back.. as soon as I can I will write again.

Before I go, I was thinking about a borderline morbid but interesting fact today, and I’m going to make it a little game.

Interesting morbid fact: I have been in two of the exact locations where the earthquake/tsunami crisis happened the other day.
Game: Do you know which ones precisely? (including city or state name) Comment to answer. First correct answer gets something special from me. =)

I guess this is my entry…

December 19, 2004

11:30 pm Sunday night. (Many days since last entry. I feel like there may be new people visiting my blog. What will they think when there are no updates for a week. Shameful of me, but things are so busy. Must write now).

First, I can thank my father for definitely the best comment to ever grace my blog – it’s also by far the longest – sort of like it’s own entry. Hmm.. maybe a blog for Jack Bruss in the new year. Tales from a conservative suburban engineer. Hee hee. Just kidding dad. (See below following entry to read the comment).

Anyway, it’s almost Christmas and it’s freaking cold outside. I live with some people newly emmigrated from Mexico. A few weeks ago when we were riding the edge of freezing they began commenting that it’s cold. I’m a realist, so I thought it best to warn them that this wasn’t really that cold. Oh no, it’s still coming I told them. Better to be prepared.

It’s depressing to me all this cold weather. I like pretty snow, but the year I spent away from the upper Midwestern winter did not bother me one bit. I hate it being mid-December and having January, February and March to “look forward” too. After my birthday in early January it’s just freezing February and March, which sounds a bit like a spring month, as does April, but us Wisconsinites know that those are really the worst manic months of winter. A deceptively warm 45-degree day followed by a -20 degree windchill killer.

Anyway, who writes about weather on a blog? Seriously, my brain is overworked from a beating of a weekend at work, a lot of running around finishing Christmas shopping as well as planning the late January wedding reception. =) All fine and good but taxing. I’m looking forward to the coming weekend off, eating and resting a lot, it’s going to be good.

Feliz Navidad.

coming out of a closet

December 9, 2004

When I first started this adventure a few months ago I basically only told my friends about my blog. I suppose because I have had friends traveling with me through different stages of my life I am closest and most vulnerable with them.

I have always had an average, at times rocky, at times peaceful, not especially intimate relationship with my family. I have always been a bit paranoid about appearing on top of everything, successful, poised and together in front of my family. Perhaps to evade questions, perhaps to keep a distance, perhaps because of some childhood desire to do everything perfectly.

I know I’ve taken a different route to do many things in my life and I’m not sure I really care about their opinion, but it’s easier sometimes to not hear the opinion you fear. I know my opinions about many things contradict those of my parents and my family in general. I also feel that our life experiences are very different, and that the opinions of youth are generally discredited because they come from youth. As I have grown up I have sometimes been too outspoken and ended up hurt, so I sometimes try to lay low, stay quiet, even though I hate that feeling. I am not trying to say that I have felt especially put down or that somehow my life experiences have been more worthwhile or more alive and real than anyone else’s, I am just fumbling towards my confused thoughts about family.

All this rambling to say that on some level I didn’t tell my family about my blog because I wasn’t quite sure if it would be acceptable to them. I wasn’t sure how it was going to be, what I would write about, what sort of things I would share, if I would even keep it up. I know my family loves me and supports me, but keeping an online journal makes a person so vulnerable. Now that my little subconsciously kept secret is out in the open, I know I have to strive to write with the same honesty, clarity and reality.

You see, I’m starting to think of myself a little bit as a writer. At work I have become a person people frequently tell their live stories too and I imagine how I would frame them in an article. Whenever I am alone, driving usually or walking somewhere or watching people at a coffee shop or listening to NPR or music, I am thinking about things I could write about. I am thinking about stories of real people, things I might like to research, my own life or friend’s lives, how to capture it with words for others to comprehend. And right now this blog is my outlet. I have no idea if my writing will ever be anything to anybody; for now it’s just something for me, and I guess as many of my friends, family and acquaintances who can stand to read it.

home improvement

December 3, 2004

I put up my first Christmas tree the other night, in my house that I sort of own (with my husband and the mortgage company of course), with my lights and garland and ornaments. I got to decorate it how I wanted and now we can enjoy it for 30 days or so to come. I really like my Christmas tree.. I really like the feeling of making something happen in my house.

The same night I decided to hang some decorations above the built-in wood China cabinets in this old house and noticed how dirty some of the woodwork and window area was above the cabinets. I got out my slick non-abrasive cleaner and started scrubbing away. As I was sitting up there on the buffet, alone in the house, listening to Harry Connick Jr. Christmas tunes, scrubbing away at perhaps decades of dirt, I thought, I might be the first person in a while to really love this house. These rooms have held countless people, I have no idea how many I just know that there have been at least two different owners in the last ten years or so, and before that, who knows. I don’t think in the last ten years there has been much improvement. There has been maintenance, nothing is trashed or ruined, but I’m into improvement. I envision this a place for me and my family and my husband’s family and eventually our children to enjoy because of its comfort, utility, and elegance. I put money into the house not because I think it’s going to make me happy to spend money, but because as with my personal life or my marriage I believe in improvement.

I changed jobs not so long ago. At my previous job, I thought myself an old hand at everything. I had been around since that particular restaurant concept had opened and thought myself pretty all-around experienced and better than everyone else at most things. I wouldn’t have said it like that, but that thought was lurking there just below the surface. Changing jobs and learning the ins and outs of a new one, whether it restaurant, office, whatever, makes you realize all the things you really aren’t that good at, at least for me.

In a way I had been so confident with Chin’s that I had left little room in my person for growth there. There is so much humility and discovery in learning a different place with different rules and policies and trying to figure how to be great here. The best part personally is to meet new people. I thought I would miss my employees at Chin’s so badly, and I do miss them, but I get to interact with so many fascinating new people at Qdoba. I get to focus on running a good business with great leaders helping me become a great leader. This is improvement.