Friday, July 5, 2013

Independence Day 2013

Wolfie With Our American Flag
As my American friends and readers already know, yesterday was Independence Day here in America. It's been so terribly hot here in Monterey over the past couple of weeks, but it finally started to cool down late in the day yesterday. Somehow we hadn't really gotten into the spirit of barbecuing yet this year, but 4th of July is always a great time to start, so that's exactly what we did. 

We also finally got around to taking some new pictures of ourselves and each other. I don't know how it is that we got so bad about this -- especially me. Granted I've never been someone who likes having their picture taken or who feels comfortable in front of a camera, but I definitely used to actually be in the habit of taking pictures on a regular basis anyway -- certainly at least a few new ones a month or something. This was especially the case since I've been so active online for so many years and plenty of uploaded photos are really the only way other people can see you and feel like they know you.

Me by the Barbecue Area
One of the reasons I've become less communicative over the years is probably that I don't have as much actual need to be otherwise anymore. Since I have Seth to talk to, ask for advice, or hang out with, I don't actively seek out direct social interaction online out of sheer loneliness anymore. Also, since my writing business took off to the point where I have a lot of regular clients, it's not really necessary for me to get out there and network quite as often either. I'm plenty busy as it is without doing a whole lot of self promotion these days. In other words, the original motives I had for building the online presence I currently have don't really exist anymore, so I've been sort of trying to figure out what my new motivations are and should be.   

I forget who said it originally, but I know there's a saying that goes: "Never allow yourself to forget the little things, because someday you will realize they were the big things." Or something like that anyway. When I look back on my own memories, I would have to say that I find that to be true. I would also say that I've learned the hard way to actually record those memories -- by writing about them in a journal, taking pictures, or both. If I don't, I eventually forget what a certain day was like, what I was feeling, what I was thinking about, or why I felt it was such a nice day in the first place.

Sweet and Sour Turkey Burger With Onion on Sourdough
That said, we had a really wonderful 4th of July yesterday. Thankfully, I'd already finished my assignments for the week, so I had no excuse not to take some time off and just have fun for the holiday.

We enjoyed the fresh air and sunset while listening to Mumford and Sons's Sigh No More. Last summer, they played the Monterey Fairgrounds and although we weren't able to get tickets to go, we could hear the music perfectly from our barbecue area and decided to grill burgers while we listened. Now every time I hear that album, it reminds me of grilling delicious food and just taking some time away from work and the computer to enjoy life for a moment. Naturally, Mumford and Sons is now a barbecue staple thanks to its new ability to invoke pleasant memories and good feelings.

Seth grilled us some delicious Monterey Jack sausages, as well as sweet and sour turkey burgers with onions on grilled sourdough English muffins. We also had a great time watching the sunset, listening to music, drinking red wine, and watching what we could see of people's fireworks from outside the house. Tomorrow, the Scottish games will be in town again, so we'll probably take a walk up that way and spend some time there as well. It finally feels like it's really summer in spirit and not just because of the heat for a change.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

On Summer, Working at Home, and Laziness

It really is true what they say. Everything kind of has a downside... even getting to be someone who works for themselves from home. On the one hand, I have all this freedom since I started doing what I do. However, I'm not always sure that I put that freedom to the best possible uses.

When I imagine the concept of "freedom" in my head, I always picture myself being the same model citizen and full participant in regards to the outside world that I would be otherwise, only without the need to actually show up at an office day in and day out. In reality though? I get pretty lazy and that laziness only becomes more pronounced as time rolls on.

I'm a homebody at heart, so if work obligations and personal responsibilities don't require me to get out that often, I kind of just... don't. I don't like to dress up for no good reason, so not actually being required to go out most days eventually leads to barely bothering when it comes to fixing myself up at all. I certainly don't bother putting together outfits or putting on make-up most days. Before I know it, I don't even know where my nicer clothes are in the event I do want to go somewhere. Don't even get me started on how out of shape I become if something isn't forcing me to get outside and exercise on a regular basis.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that summer crept up on me again just like it always does and I don't feel ready for it. I don't have a car, so getting out and exploring requires a lot of walking, biking, or bus riding that I just rarely do anymore. Plus, I really don't feel like I have anything to wear or like I look good in what I do have. I used to feel like I looked pretty darned smart when I went out, but these days I tend to feel more like something that crawled out from under a rock and is just visiting the outside world for a while.

I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, I certainly don't care to go back to being completely overdressed and caked in unnecessary make-up at all times like I was when I still worked an outside job, but I definitely don't like feeling like it takes a big production and a lot of grooming in order to get me ready to attend a simple community event either. I wish I still had a "look" of some sort and at least a few semi-decent outfits to put on if I want to go somewhere or take pictures. I don't care to be some bombshell that turns heads on the street anymore, but I would like to feel like my outsides really match my insides.

I still love my new bright red hair though. I literally smile every time I see it... but it doesn't really look like it belongs with the rest of me. Thankfully it's nothing a couple of inexpensive new dresses, a little make-up, and some purposeful dieting can't fix though. I just need to be less lazy when it comes to that sort of thing is all. However, summer has always been a pretty decent motivator for me when it comes to that particular arena.


I also finally saw my way clear to upgrading my laptop to a newer model with a huge hard drive, a faster processor, and a ton of RAM. I've been due to start thinking seriously about an upgrade probably for the last year or so, but I've been putting it off even though I've been able to afford it. I grew up in an environment that taught me that it's really not OK to spend any of my own hard-earned money on things for myself, but -- as with the whole homebody slug thing -- I'm pretty tired of that. I spend the bulk of my time and energy working, so I deserve to reap the benefits of that once in a while.

I eventually reasoned myself into placing the order by reminding myself that I rely on my computer for work. I also rely on it for a lot of my entertainment -- keeping up with movies, watching television, or playing video games (like The Sims). My old computer just doesn't keep up as well as it once did and it barely runs some of the more complicated games I enjoy. Since I'm not going to be going on vacation or doing anything major this summer, I figure I can at least play around on Second Life or upgrade my Sims game and engage in some virtual adventures, right?