Friday, November 30, 2007

Home For About 48 (horas that is)

I had the 1:32 flight from Mexico City to Atlanta today and I am home now, basking in the glory of my small old cottage house and I love it so much I can't stand it. It took the cats about 10 minutes to forgive me and I have loved on all of them and done 3 loads of laundry and loved on them some more and unwrapped all the shopping treasures from last weekend which reminds me that I have not told you about last weekend which was greater than I could have ever imagined and loved on them some more.

So I suck and have a lot to catch up on and I will. But for tonight I am totally content to rub Sonny's head and listen to him do this passive growl thing that tells me how much he loves the rub but is pissed that I've been away. Totally content to hold Camile and have her fall asleep in my arms and then turn into psyco-kitty and run off. Totally content to grab Phoebe and kiss her and let her go because she isn't that kind of cat. Yet. Totally content to be keying in this entry and stop to love on Dylan because he insists.

There is lots of love to catch up on. Later on once the punks are satisfied I will post about last weekend with my new bestest friend. It was the kind of thing that makes me grin every time I think about it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

An awesome Mexico City Weekend!

Y'all, I had the most incredible weekend and I really am going to write about it once I spend a paragraph or so bitching about a couple of tiny insignificant things. But tonight I'm too tired. Thanks to this perverse Mexican schedule I have just returned to my room after dinner (it's almost 10 pm) and honestly I just want to get in bed and read for about an hour and get to sleep. I don't know about you but I would far rather take 30 minutes for lunch and get home by 6 than take 2 + hours and get home between 8:30 and 9 pm). Sheesh. Remind me that I also need to write a little about the book I'm reading - The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It is incredible.

For now I am looking forward to Friday when I fly back home and get to spend the weekend (possibly more?) with the punks. I am counting the hours. I miss having Camille and Phoebe taking up precious leg space in the bed. I miss Phoebe waking me up in the middle of the night so I will pet her just because she deserves it. I miss Dylan being neurotic and needy. I miss Sonny being a high maintenance and grumpy old man. Speaking of which I got an email from my catsitter today. She has managed to get fluids in Dylan a couple of times but hasn't been able to do Sonny because he goes into his drama queen thing. When he gets upset (like when I make him come inside before he is ready, or when I make him get OFF the kitchen table) he goes into this wheezing, coughing fit. Evidently he has pulled this every time Gale has tried to give him fluids. Did I mention he is a grumpy old man? He needs his Momma!

I'll try to get some photos and news posted about the weekend by tomorrow night or Thursday. It's full of adventure and insights and my God but you need to see Mexico City. What a history! What a strange and funny place!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Meeting Tine (continued)

So anyway, I'm about to make my goodnights and leave and get in bed when I see this woman walking in the door and I noticed her only because she was walking like she was in a rush to meet friends and Laticia and I were the only two people in the place. She walks in, walks right up to us and asks if we speak English. Laticia was kind of taken aback and I jumped right in and put a very confused look on my face and said "Perdon. No habla Inglais." This woman looked kind of disappointed and then I came clean and told her I was American. She obviously was. She asked if she could join us rather than sit alone and we invited he to do so.

Tina turned out to be quite a character to say the least. She is into mountain climbing and extreme sports and had just spent the last week climbing to the summit of an 18,700 foot mountain close to Mexico City! How cool is that? She showed us photos and told us all about the experience. She lives in the high desert outside of Los Angeles where she has just bought a house. She travels the world climbing mountains and sleeping in tents on said mountains.

We had the most amazing time talking and laughing and I learned once again how important it is to stay open to new people and experiences.

She was leaving on a 9 am flight back to LAX and wanted us to "pull an all nighter" with her but by that time I was about to fall over with exhaustion and Leticia was too so exchanged email addresses and said our goodbyes.

I would love to stay in touch with this crazy person. She's going to send the photos she took of the 3 of us and if this actually happens I will post them.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Meeting Tina

I have an awesome story to tell but first you need a backstory and even though it is very very very late (for me at least) I have to tell it now so later I can tell you about tonight and meeting Tina.

So those of you who have been reading this know that my company is starting up an office in Santiago Chile for LAN Airlines. I have been pretty much on hold for almost 6 months in anticipation of going but am now in Mexico City. Because of the "language thing" and the fact that few people in Santiago speak English it was decided that a Mexico staff member would go for a month of training and I would take over his position here in MEX. TEMPORARILY.

At the same time a new hire in Santiago came here for other training in another area. Laticia is her name and she has very good english and we happen to be two doors down from each other in this hotel.

Laticia is 28. She is married with a 3 year old and a 1 year old. She is the friendliest, sweetest, most goodhearted person I think I have ever met. She is also a great deal of fun and is always smiling and laughing. I think I loved her from the moment I met her and I am sure you would too.

I have tried to avoid socializing with Laticia even though we are both stuck here in this hotel. Why? Because besides being the most truly sweet, friendly, pure heart you could imagine she is drop dead beautiful. I mean beautiful hair, beautiful eyes, beautiful skin, gorgeous body. To top it off she is very smart and has an enormous work ethic. This alone is nothing. I know several women with these attributes and I can't say much for their insides but Leticia is the real thing inside and out. But she is a knock out.

So why do I avoid socializing? Simply because when I am in her presence I become invisible. This really has never happened to me before. I am fairly decent looking for 45 I think. I am friendly and when I am out I am outgoing and my personality is good. A bit of age and a good job have given me confidence. I love people and I love talking to people. But when I am around Laticia I am invisible.

I am NOT jealous because I understand the attraction people have to her. Really I think it's funny in a way. When we go to the restaurant together for dinner the waiters gather around her and pull out her seat and cater to her every whim even before she has it. They fill her coffee and walk away basking in the glory of her "gracias" while I sit there with an empty cup in front of me. It is seriously funny to me but at the same time a bit annoying because I prefer halfway decent service as a paying customer. So I have kind of mostly avoided the breakfast/dinner thing with her.

Tonight we got back late from the office and I invited her to go with me to the lounge and get something very light for dinner. We walked in and immediately there were 3 waiters around us (her) and we ordered a cheese and cracker plate and spent about 90 minutes enjoying it while we talked and listened to salsa music.


(to be continued)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving or Thursday

OK. I'm feeling just a little bit down tonight. Just a little bit mind you. I mean, it's Thanksgiving and I'm sitting in a hotel room after a long day conducted in a language I don't understand except a word here and there so besides feeling isolated I'm feeling, well, isolated. At home I am isolated to some extent but that is entirely by choice. I always have the option of picking up the phone and calling friends or going out and driving around or cleaning something or pursuing a hobby. When you have to pack a suitcase there is only so much you can bring.

To give you an idea of how my life here in Mexico is (and will be until mid to late December), I am staying this time at the Ramada Airport. During my 3 trips in October I stayed at another airport hotel which was admittedly a bit more expensive but there were 4 different restaurants in the hotel plus another handful across the pedestrian bridge at the airport terminal. Also in the airport were shops and bookstores and 2 Starbucks and lots of people to watch. This is important because as I've mentioned before this is not an area of Mexico City where one wants to be walking alone, even in the daytime.

The Ramada is not in a complex. It is a stand alone building. There is one restaurant and the food is not terribly desirable as even the choices that read "healthy" on the menu come drowning in heavy sauce. Last night I had shrimp with brown rice. The menu left out the part about the sauce. Tonight I chose chicken breast stuffed with spinach with steamed vegetables. It arrived drowning in sauce, even the veggies. I just don't see myself making it another week without screaming. Other than the restaurant there is nothing. On the plus side there is free wireless internet. The other place had only wired internet at a cost of $22 per 24 hours. On the downside the room is tiny, painted a stark white, and because the floor is tiled with no carpet whatsoever it echoes like a cave. On the plus side once I get to my room and change I feel a little more energetic. On the downside there is nothing to do with that energy. On the plus side they provide an in room coffeemaker and a 3 cup "pod" every day which the other place didn't. On the downside I have no earthly idea what I'm going to do with myself this weekend.

I'm going to get in bed and read now and in the morning I plan to get up with a fantastic attitude and make tomorrow the best, most productive day possible.

For tonight, if you are in the US, Happy Thanksgiving. If you aren't, Happy Friday Eve!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I Ate Crickets!!!

Hi from Mexico City everyone! Things are very busy here since I arrived just about 32 hours ago. I came toting a brand new laptop because my old Dell finally started dying a horrible death about the middle of last week. I managed to limp through until I picked my new one up on the way to the airport Tuesday morning and I've been trying to load it with eveyrthing I need from the old one plus learn the job I am here to do plus continue to do my own job. So I'm tired but wanted to check in before I get under the covers and read.

Today at lunch we visited a street market that happens every Wednesday in this area. I was just amazed as usual. It was jam packed with people and I saw strange produce and meats and food stands serving things I had never seen before.
Of course me being me I had to try something I had never tried before and in fact didn't even realize people ate! And of course they were delicious. I had a blue tortilla quesidilla with cheese and crickets which was served with a side of crickets!

I realize the look of it might be a bit off-putting but these crickets are young. In fact Jorge told me that November is the perfect time of year to eat crickets since they are young and tender. As opposed, I guess, to the large chewy crickets you have to put up with in, say, February. They are dry fried on a very hot surface until they are crispy and spicy.

Of course this stand also sold some more run of the mill quesadillas but I found the crickets and cheese variety to be quite the thing on a warm November day. In fact I might go back for more next Wednesday!

Sweet dreams!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Six More Shopping Days Until Christmas

This is my last weekend before my Mexico stay. Even though I will be back briefly the weekend of November 30 - December 3 I truly have only this weekend and the last weekend before Christmas to enjoy preparing for the "holidays" so I'm trying to get a lot accomplished. Today I ran a few errands then came home and worked in the yard a little. Needed to get up the leaves from the cherry tree since it is just on the line between me and the neighbors, Glenna and Abbi (sisters who rent the house next door). Glenna is a real outside person and I see her a lot and she always beats me to the raking and mowing but today I beat her! I am well aware that this cherry tree throws junk all over her yard and so I used the blower and yard vac to get it cleaned up. Looks nice now. Tomorrow I need to get out and drag some fallen limbs from the backyard to the street but for today I have accomplished a lot.

I am working on a knitting project that I started last March. I got to a problem area in about April and waited until June for Mom to come down and have a professional look and she recommended pulling it all out and starting over. Two weeks ago I did so and ran into the same problem so I went to a knit shop here in Atlanta. Knitch is located in Virginia Highlands and it is the greatest place with the greatest people. Two high level knitters helped me and last night I finished the left front of this jacket. This morning I started on the right front and already I am at almost 9"!!!! One problem with travel is that when you're working on something like a sweater you have to travel with the whole thing, not just the piece you're working on. You have to compare front right to left right and both to the back as you go so I am really working hard to try to get a lot done before I go Tuesday. Once can only travel with so much.

After the two women at Knitch had looked at the problem and provided a solution I felt the least I could do was make a small purchase. This is a place with top of the line yarns and supplies and someday I will get there but for now I am using crappy yarn available at Michael's although I do invest in bamboo needles because they are warm and soft and happy. So I spent $15 on a little "kit" where you can make and then felt catnip mice for cats. The kit I got makes 5 mice. I did the first one and it only took about 30 minutes to knit. I think tonight I will do the felting to see how it turns out before I knit the rest.

I'm pretty sure there was another reason for posting tonight but my arms are tired from the yard and I just want to make a simple dinner and get back to this sweater. I'll post again if I think of it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I cooked my turkey! I bought it last weekend then last week I got my travel orders which meant I would be in Mexico on Thanksgiving so I put it in the fridge to thaw Friday night and this morning stuck that sucker in the oven. Nothing fancy. No cheesecloth. No stuffing. No pomegranate/dijon/horseradish glaze. Just a turkey. In an oven. I AM NOT MARTHA!!! (Although I aspire to this)

It came out beautifully. Not that it mattered. I only did it for the stock and meat and the fact that an American is required BY LAW to cook a turkey at least once a year so for another year I avoid incarceration.

I go back to Mexico next Tuesday. I'll be there for Thanksgiving and will return for 2 days on Nov 30 then go back for 2 more weeks. At least this is the plan now which of course with my company is never really the plan! For my less worldly readers they actually don't have Thanksgiving outside of the US (except Canada which is a different date). Really! I don't have a problem with this at all. Christmas YES! I must have at least a strand of lights somewhere. Thanksgiving no.

So I cooked the pitiful little turkey today. Today I kept running system reports and testing things and sniffing and thinking I should be watching a stupid blow up cartoon balloon impale itself on a light pole in Manhattan. Ah those Thanksgiving traditions! About 2 minutes ago I finished up officially so another good 10 hour day (I hope).

I love to cook. I love to keep a home. Typically for me I also love to leave it and experience different things.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I Am An Amateur Vet

Dylan, who at age almost 11 is my next to oldest cat, is very thin. The others are extremely healthy and bordering on chubby but Dylan has always been frighteningly thin. In my honest opinion this is because he is a purebred Maine Coon. He was a rescue but he came with papers. Purebred anythings have lots of problems. Mutts and alley cats might not be the posh choice but they are sturdy and healthy. Also when they are rescues they know just how fortunate they are to find a loving home so they show it! When I was out of town last time the cat sitter left me a note and suggested that I speak with my vet about fluid therapy for him just in case it might help. I did so immediately and also consulted with my sister Page (the awesome vet who unfortunately for me lives in Cleveland Ohio). Page thought oldest cat Sonny (18) would also benefit.

I got trained on administering fluids and now have a little treatment center set up in my laundry room:
It's kind of amazing how fast Sonny responds. He immediately becomes bright-eyed and alert and after 18 months of not grooming himself he has begun to do so again! Dylan isn't responding noticeably so far but I am sure he will given time.

I'm not a total stranger to amateur vet care. Sonny has a couple of "old man" problems that I take care of myself. Both could be fixed with minor surgery but my vet doesn't want to put him under anesthesia at his age unless it is life threatening. These problems are a nuisance, but only to me. He barely notices. He has blocked tear ducts so his sweet little eyes run and the discharge gets brown and caked up so every few days I wash his face with a warm damp cloth and keep antibiotic ointment on the irritated places on his face. He also has a bump on the back of his head that gradually fills with fluid over time. I get this tested once or twice a year and it's benign and really it doesn't bother him but it can get very full and enlarged and it bounces around when he walks so every 4 to 6 weeks I suck it out with a hypodermic needle:

I've told a few people about this and they all think it's so gross and are amazed that I don't have a problem using needles on my cats. When I think about it that way I cringe but in reality it is just run of the mill and if I can care for them in the comfort of their own home without the trauma of a crate and a drive and the routine thermometer up the ass then it's a no-brainer for me. Far less gross than holding a vomiting human child's forehead as far as I'm concerned. For annual check ups and emergency situations I will always see my vet first but for simple maintenance that I can do here at home I think that's best.

Of course with the travel situation I immediately checked with my awesome cat sitter (Critter Sitters for those of you in the Atlanta area) and yes she has a lot of experience doing subcutaneous fluid therapy so I can continue to travel knowing my punks are getting exactly what they need and I don't have to quit my job just yet.

More about upcoming travel probably tomorrow. For now I have a knitting problem that needs to get resolved pronto!

Thursday, November 08, 2007


I am so thrilled because tonight I resolved a system issue by thinking about it and drilling down into it and trying a few things out. The problem is that the critical call came in after a long day when I was just about to get on a conference call and after the call (during which I managed to force down my dinner of leftovers without audibally making chewing sound which means I will be constipated for 3 days) I just kind of settled in to the sofa with my knitting and the laptop in front of me to monitor the situation from afar and only after there was no response from on-call support after 90 minutes did I get bored and look into it myself. So I am both patting myself on the back because I resolved this and kicking myself because in the end it took 15 minutes and some instant messages with Mexico to fix. Also in the end it was a totally silly user problem which I should have seen immediately and resolved in the 4 minutes between learning about it and starting the conference call. Duh on me.

But I decided I have all day tomorrow to beat myself up so tonight I will pat myself on the back! Yay me! Wooooo hoooo! Me ROCKS! Tomorrow I am sure I will suck again but tonight me is Princess.

The thing is, I find this is true in my "real" life as well. Something goes wrong and I go into panic mode and grab at the first life raft available when it probably would be better to live with the pain while I examine the situation and find the best choice. Usually this takes no time at all but the first knee-jerk reaction is to grab for the person who knows more than I do. And if I just relax and take the time I realize in the end I had all the necessities to resolve the situation by myself! Note to self.

So anyway I am totally stoked (do the kids say "stoked" anymore?) and have a renewed love for what I do which actually happens in some form once a week or so but this was a major one so maybe it will last a while.

The best thing about my job is that I learn something new ABSOLUTELY EVERY day. Almost this is without exception in 5 years. The other best thing is that I am able to work with some really great people in all corners of the world. Sometimes they are coming from different cultures and so I have to try (and fail) to present the information in an interesting and new way because they ignore it because I am a baka gaijin. Or a gringa stupida. Cultures have really different (read this as "backwards" unless you are a Republican in which case read "appropriate female who is born again") take on outside people with vaginas. And sometimes I have learned something they haven't and can pass this on. And often (very often) it is the other way around. I come from a family of educators and I taught college once for a few years but nothing compares with teaching outside a classroom. I swear to you that without this I would have walked off the job 4.3 years ago. Because otherwise it sucks. But in a really great way! I only wish I could somehow get rid of my vagina because it seems to be a liability to me outside of the US, Canada and the EU. The ERA fights were, like, 2 or 40 months ago and how could this critical information not have gotten to giants like Japan and, well, someplace in South America?

That said I have another massage tomorrow at 4 which is far more important information. One was not enough and despite the budgetary concerns I know I need it and also I deserve it and the cats need to lose weight anyway so I'll just feed them less (kidding!). I IM'd Sam tonight that I was totally taking tomorrow afternoon off. I am going to have my massage and come home and drool. But I will probably work until 3:45 because I think I'm addicted. Also there is testing to be done But after I swear I will drool. This lady kicked my ass last week and I had BRUISES on my arms and legs until Wednesday! THAT is a great massage! The sissy massage shit pisses me off.

Over the weekend I will give y'all the update on my upcoming travel because I know for sure all 6 of you who read this crap might actually be interested!

Sunday, November 04, 2007


This time change from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time and back always messes me up. It's like jet lag without the benefit of seeing a new exciting different place. And this time it's going to be even worse because I stayed up late (for me) last night and watched SNL for the first time in about 8 years to see Brian Williams because I knew I would sleep late(r) today.

At 6:50 my land line started ringing. I vaguely heard it and ignored it because I always ignore my landline because it's usually someone wanting money. 5 minutes later it rang again. I finally got up at 7:03 and checked the messages and it was Miss Jessie next door. Worried that she had fallen or was not well I called her back immediately and here's the story. She was sitting reading her bible before church today and a bulb in the overhead light in her den went out. She went into her kitchen and another bulb went out there. She was extremely upset because she was sure her house was on fire. I assured her it wasn't and since I have no lightbulbs in the house told her to go on to church and I would run out to the store and get some bulbs and fix things for her this afternoon. Being the neighbor of an almost 96 year old woman can be a challenge at times.

So I'm sleep deprived today. Which will only be compounded starting at about 5 when it gets dark and I start counting the minutes until I can go to bed without feeling embarrassed.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

My Bud Richard

Tonight I had dinner with Richard.

I've known Richard for almost 5 years. He was a co-worker. For 3 years he sat at the desk across the chest-high cube wall from me and I liked him from the minute I met him. He's a weird old curmudgeon, about maybe 10 years older than me although I realise the age difference does not excuse my own weird old curmudgeon-ness in the least. We had an open office system thing except for the chest-high cube walls that separated various groups within the company so I could always hear him on the phone. He was in procurement and did a lot of selling. Not just selling things but selling ideas and making deals and that kind of thing and he is the perfect person for this kind of job because he plays golf and people really like him. His conversations on the phone always made me laugh and now and then I would tell him he was totally full of shit.

During my year in Japan the company moved headquarters and Richard ended up in another job at a different company but he always kept in touch.

To tell the honest truth I always had a bit of a crush on him. The spring after I came back from Japan I read about growing potatoes in trash cans. I challenged him to a contest. We put $25 on who would have the biggest harvest. He went out and purchased 4 huge brand new trash cans and top-of-the-line soil (about $200 total). I ransacked my shed and used nasty old containers that I had to clean the squirrel poop out of first. 3 months later I had an extra $25! I still call him "Farmer Dick" and for some reason I think he thinks this is funny.

About a year ago he sold his condo and ended up buying a house very close to where I live and so I used this as an excuse to ask him out to dinner at a local restaurant so he could get to know his new neighborhood. For a time I actually had hopes it might turn into "something" but it never did and that is fine with me.

We talk regularly and get together maybe every couple of months and have dinner. I gave him a call Thursday and he immediately said we needed to have dinner and we made plans for tonight and met at the German place up the street from me.

As always it was 2 hours of constant talk. We never have a lull in the conversation and talk both business and life.

It was a good time and I am happy to have a friend like this!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Massage Report

I'm back from the massage. As I said yesterday it has been 2 years since my last one and oh sweet mother of GOD!!! IT WAS INCREDIBLE!!! My previous massage therapist, Laura, was just great and if I hadn't been desperate I might not have gone to a fresh therapist today. But I was desperate. I'm not kidding. When I walked in the office Hamrawit (not "Hamuri" as I spelled it yesterday even though it's pronounced that way) was behind the counter and I took one look at her and realized I was in for a big expensive disappointment. She is about 5 feet tall and just a tiny, pretty little Indian lady. No way could she give me what I needed. Before the massage she asked me about where I carry my tension and what my job is like and I told her I work weird crazy hours and I carry my tension in my shoulders but lately my lower back has been very sore. She told me she could concentrate on those areas only but she prefers on a first massage to do full body work so she can assess the situation. Since I had no great hopes anyway I told her to do what she felt was best. She also asked me what kind of pressure I like and I told her intense pressure - that I like to feel pain because it seems to work best for me. Again, I had no hopes but figured if I told her intense pressure she might do a halfway mediocre job of it.

It was the BEST MASSAGE OF MY LIFE!!! She frigging SLAYED ME!!! This tiny little woman who was wary of using "too much pressure" because it might tear at my muscles after so long without a massage knew. She knew where it hurt and she became a 300 pound weightlifter and just frigging worked me. I have motion now in my neck and back where there wasn't any 3 hours ago. She hurt me! This little thing that I could take out in the parking lot made me wince in pain! It was good pain though and she knew exactly what she was doing so I sucked it up and let her.

When I tried to get up from the table I couldn't. I had to work for 5 minutes to just roll over and kind of roll off the thing. My bra went in my purse because no way could I get it hooked. I was lucky to walk out wearing pants. The totally awesome heating pad I got for Christmas last year (and yes I specifically asked for it) is out and ready for me to crawl in bed with it.

I told her that when I walked in I decided she couldn't possibly have the strength I needed but I was just amazed. She smiled and said "sometimes the strength inside is not apparent on the outside." I got a massage from Ghandi for chrissakes!

I like this chick. And while it is a luxury I can ill afford with my recent addiction to small electronics and at this time of year especially I realize how much I need to do this to compensate for the tension in my life and so I'm going back next Friday. If I can wait that long!

If you live in the Atlanta metro area and want the best massage of your life let me know and I'll hook you up. If you don't live here you should consider coming just for this!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Only 14 months to go!

I am a born and bred Democrat and I take great interest in this political process, when it is a process - which it has not been for the past 8 years and two presidential elections.

So I am interested. On and for about a year after 9/11 I would have voted for Rudy. Now I wonder what he has to say beyond reliving 9/11. Romney seems a nice guy. But so much for the other side.

After the past 8 years all I want is a complete dis-association from what has been. I want an educated, intelligent person as President. I want someone who speaks and challenges me to think and pull out the dictionary. I want someone with a fucking MIND.

I love Hillary. She has made mistakes but haven't we all. She is so smart it makes me sting. But she is a woman. And when I say that I know I am the worst of hypocrites. What I want is for this country to begin to get back on track and I am not entirely certain the country will elect a woman. After all we have "elected" an ape for the past 8 years.

I love Obama. No really. I love him and I hang on his every word. He inspires me. He gives me hope more than anyone else. But I am not sure America is ready to elect a black man.

And then we have John who is totally cute and his wife is not going to survive the election probably and I just love him but he doesn't stand a chance.

It will be an interesting 14 months. And as soon as the negative ads start flying I will be out of it.


Y'all - when I first got this job, which has always been very stressful, I went for a massage religiously twice a month and there were times when I splurged and went every week. It has been two years since my last massage. Usually I can deal - I try to meditate and when I get tense I will lie on the floor with hard little balls under my spine and this works. But today I called for a massage appointment.

I called Laura Latorre's number. She did me for several years. I left a message and 30 minutes later received a return call. From a lady named Hamuri. Laura has returned to Uruguay. I will miss Laura but have great hopes for Hamuri. I go tomorrow at 4 pm and I can't wait. My only requirement is that she has very strong hands and is not afraid to hurt me. My shoulders are big and pain is good. Pain means the stress is gone.

I totally expect to break into tears.

I am so excited I can't stand it.