Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Cleaner

So the trip back to Atlanta? A nightmare to say the least. The airline I flew, offered the most uncomfortable flying experience ever. The food was of Oliver Twist standard. The seats were tight and the leg room was zero. That coming from a person who is only 5’5” and not all that wide, means that the taller, more fuller figured people, must have felt tortured on this plane. Yes, this company found a way to pack as many seats possible, into the space available by cutting waaaay back on the luxuries such as leg and elbow room. Of course the company mindset is, more seats, more tickets sold, more $$$ earned per flight. The low grade food and no inflight entertainment, well that's just clever cost cutting in their opinion. 

Anyway, once in Philly I was greeted with the news that my flight to Atlanta was delayed. By how long? Just 45 minutes. Not too bad. Oh wait, another announcement, sorry, its delayed an hour and 15 minutes. Ooookay, not happy but not much I can do. Hang on, some updated information, flight delayed a FURTHER 2 hours. Grrrrr. This went on and on, in the end, final figure on delayed hours, 7 HOURS. Yes, I was stranded in Philly airport for 7 hours. I finally arrived in Atlanta close to 2am and had to be up at 5.30am to go to work. What a disaster. Throw in the fact that this week, my co-worker has been going through some sort of emotional crisis and even though she was physically present at the office, she was mentally checked out and operating at minimum effort, thus leaving it all to yours truly, a jet-legged zombie, to hold things down. And I barely held it down. Actually, I think I made a bit of a f#*k up, but won’t know officially until I get to the office on Monday. 

Anyway from there I have to approach the topic of my kitty cat, Fintan, who in my opinion is the best damn cat in the world. However, Fintan has developed into a real predator a hunter if you will, taking home anything from small bugs and butterflies, to lizards, chipmunks and snakes. Yes, Fintan has brought snakes into my home. As a non-lover of wild creatures, Fintan’s new “skill” has me living on my nerve. You never know what he’s going to show up with and most of the time, when he brings it home, its not fully dead. Luckily up to this point, a man, by way of Husband or a friend, has been on hand to deal with the carnage. However last Friday, in the absence of “a man” Shinks had to step up and take on the role of “Cleaner” herself. Fintan’s latest hunt resulted in a bird, a badly mauled bird, we are talking missing eye and bloodied wing, had somehow managed to get his injured self away from my cat and up and over the door of one of our showers.

We managed to capture my bird rescue skills on video but I have to warn you, my cameraman Mike, is even more terrified of wild creatures than me, so his camera skills are pretty bad. Also, “this movie has been rated 17 due to scenes of violence and use of language” . Sorry da, I was nervous and the bad words just slipped out.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Where's My Ruby Slippers??

Right now I am sitting at the Internet area of the departure lounge in London’s Heathrow Airport. I have begun what is a very long and scenic route back to my home in Atlanta, Georgia. Yes, today's trip will have me fly from Dublin to London at the very crack of dawn. Spend 3 hours hanging out with my London peeps, before its onwards to Philadelphia where I will get a further 4 hours to hang with my Philly peeps before lastly taking my final flight to Atlanta. 

Its a nightmare, I won’t lie and my attitude towards the whole program is very bad, very bad indeed. I know a more centered and zen like person would choose to focus on the positives of the situation, like catching up on ones reading, (which I have been bitching I don’t get enough time to do anymore), or spending some time getting all deep by reflecting and pondering ones life and the direction it is headed or not headed. 

But right now, I am not that zen person. I am choosing to spend some time focusing on the negative. Choosing hostility, frustration, anger and my overwhelming fatigue, over anything that may help make this nightmare journey bearable. Eventually these emotions will wear me out and I’ll have to accept the situation at hand and stop wishing my friend Mary (US Airways Mary, of the magic tapping fingers) would suddenly show up, preferably with a dazzling pair of ruby slippers, that with a bit of deep thinking, heel clicking and verbal muttering will instantly beam me directly to my bed in Atlanta. That would be so nice, completely out of touch with reality, but nice nonetheless.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Mission Accomplished

I'm happy to report the flight to Ireland was a success. Not because of my mad packing skills and definitely not because of the "on-time" abilities of the folks at United Airlines. No, the reason I made it safe and sound and right on schedule is because of Mary.

Mary was the customer service rep I went to inquiring about any potential delays for my flight from Atlanta to Philadelphia. I explained to Mary that I had just 1 hour to make my connection in Philly and was concerned about my plane's ability to be on time.

After some fast action finger tapping on her keyboard, Mary informed me that my flight was delayed 20 minutes. Sh*t, now I only had 40 minutes to make my connection. Not possible. Before I could even open my mouth, Mary was already frantically tapping her fingers in an effort to come up with solutions for my problem. And what was her solution? To re-book me on the Delta flight direct from Atlanta to Dublin leaving a 8pm. Sweeeeeet. And with zero dolla in change fees. Even sweeeeter. Gotta love Mary.

So home is where I am now and of course I've been spending tons of time with my wee nephew, who is now approaching the 3 month mark. He has gotten so big and is becoming completely interactive. Tons of smiles, tons of drool, lots of kicking and swinging of legs and arms and even big efforts to talk by way of squeals and baby sound effects. 

And yes of course the poor child has had a camera lens jammed in front of him for a large part of our time together, but don't worry, I'll spare the world too many baby snaps and leave you with just this one cutesie-wootsie little photo I snapped right after a nappy (diaper) change.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Carry-On Challenge

It’s a long weekend here in the US, so I decided to take advantage of the extra days off work by popping back to Ireland to see my family and re-connect with my Irish peeps. I leave today after work and I’m so friggin excited.

But my trip is not without one minor challenge and that would be a 1 hour connection in Philadelphia. Yes, I fly from Atlanta to Philly, then Philly to Dublin and I have just 1 hour to disembark, locate and run like the blazes to the plane that will take me all the way to Dublin. It’s going to be tight, no doubt about that. Everything and I mean EVERYTHING needs to run absolutely on schedule, or better yet, ahead of schedule for all this to happen, especially on that Atlanta to Philly flight. Every second is going to be crucial, so packing light was an absolute must. And even though I travel a lot, packing light has never been my thing. I’m a serial over packer, always have been. Tons of “what if” shoes, dresses, tops and jeans. In my opinion, you just never know what last minute invitations may come your way, you need to be ready.

But the over packing thing, not a good idea for this trip. If I’m going to struggle to make the connection, then a checked bag, has zero chance. So my challenge last night was to get 5 days worth of clothes and shoes along with necessities like my lap-top, camera and it various pieces of equipment into 1 suitcase big enough to take all the above but small enough to fit in the overhead compartment of the plane. No easy. I do have a backpack to help with the situation, but all in all, quite the challenge.

But I’m happy to report that it did happen. I made it work. My life for the next 5 days, is now very tightly packed in a mini suitcase and backpack. How proud am I? Very. So right now I have managed to do, all that I can do, to increase my chances of making this Philly connection. All I need now is for the people of United Airlines, Atlanta and Philadelphia airports to do the same and all will be well. Wish me luck. If I had a
Twitter, I could update y’all on the situation as its happening, but am still on the fence with the whole world of Twitter. So until then we'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Foot In Mouth Disease

Today at work I did an excellent job of jamming my foot right into my mouth. It was awful. Just awful.  With every word I uttered and every question asked, my foot got bigger and inched it’s way further and further down my throat. If ever there was a “ground please open up and swallow me whole” situation, then today was it.

To be honest it wasn’t all my fault. I was introduced to the son of a co-worker today, a 21 year old young man who had come up from Florida to spend the week with his family. Having absolutely zero information on the background story to this young man, which is apparently one of drama and rebellion, I proceeded to make some small talk, asking what I thought were some harmless routine questions. Turns out each of my “routine” questions did nothing but blow the lids off multiple cans of worms. 

It was early into the conversation when I began to realize I was walking through a potential minefield and with some fancy verbal footwork, or so I thought, I started to change up my line of questioning, hoping it would take me to the safety of some neutral territory. But no, no no, no such luck. The hole I was digging got bigger

Alarm bells were going off inside my head. The temperature in the room felt like it had jumped to 150 degrees. I’m under titanic pressure and I’m starting to sweat. My brain tells me to  “Shut it down. For the love of god, why won’t you just shut this conversation down”, but my mouth believes that the next sentence, the next statement will make everything right. “Silence brain, I can still save this”. But you know what? Brain was right, the situation could not be saved and eventually I had to raise the white flag. 

Everyone involved now felt uncomfortable, awkward and exposed. Fabulous, just fabulous. My work here was now done.

 “21 year old young man, it was very nice to meet you and now that I’ve managed to throw a gallon of gas on the fiery relationship you appear to have with your family, I will bid you adue, wish you all the best for the future as I begin to sink slowly into my chair, with aspirations of eventually crawling under my desk”.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I'm Going To Go Bald

Today has been somewhat of an emotional roller coast. I know what I’m about to share will not make sense to everyone, but I feel the need to offload, just for offloading sake.

Photoshop, Bridge, Camera Raw and Aperture, this is what and who I’ve been at logger heads with most of today. For those who may not be aware, these are all programs used for rating, filing and post-process editing of photographs and they are driving me absolutely insane. Depending on who you speak to, everyone has a different opinion on what program they use and why they feel it is far superior to the other and since I am not a technical whizz, not by a long shot, I have been soliciting the help and advice of many people in this matter in an effort to find the simplest most user friendly program out there, which may be the main contributing factor in my complete and utter confusion, not to mention frustration. 

Today alone, trying to get these damn programs to do the simplest thing has taken me to the lowest of the emotional lows, complete with defeatist “why me” tears (no joke, there were actual tears), only to later, with the patients and calming abilities of a Husband, be lifted to an emotional high when it appears that I have in fact made some actual progress. It’s been rough to say the least and the whole experience has left me worn out and overwhelmed. 

I know I just need more practice. I need to narrow my focus and choose one program. One program that I will use for my post processing. That I will refuse to let intimidate me. That I will eventually master and no longer suffer racing heart rates and borderline anxiety attacks at the mere idea of having to upload and begin my apres shoot workflow. Lord let that day be soon, cos my growing locks may not be able to hold on under the constant rapid fire stress levels.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Baby does not yet have a name. In Iceland things are done a little different. Both Silja and Vignir will have a ceremony soon and it's at this ceremony that the baby's name is revealed to the world. So until then, he will be known affectionately as Lil'Vignirsson, Icelandic for "Little Vignir's son", cute right?
Congratulations Silja and Vignir, he's just perfect.

P.S This photo was NOT taken by yours truly, I wish it was cos it's killer. This is the work of baby daddy, Vignir, who is an amazing photographer and has been the person I annoy most with my photo related questions. "Love it Vignir, did you strobe light baby or natural light. I know, more questions, sorry?"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Just A Big Softy

It’s official, I’m really just a big softy. Yes, the side I normally present to the world is hard, ridged and stubborn but if you hang around long enough, you may catch a glimpse of a more vulnerable, softer Shinks. True its rare, but it has been known to happen. I even cry at  movies, the emotional ones of course, not just any random comedy. And one particular commercial on TV, tears me up EVERY time. Its the animal rescue one, with the sad Sarah McLoughlan music playing to the footage of various little pooches and kitty’s who have been rescued from abusive situations. God, that commercial just makes me want to bawl for hours. If you haven’t seen it, look out, its pretty tough going.

But this past weekend my softer side instinctively rose to the surface when after a run through the trails of a nearby forest, I noticed a dog wandering lost and alone and moving at a hurried pace towards a very busy road. A quick look around and I realized nobody was with this dog. The Poochie is lost, alone and appears to have no idea that she is heading into the path of some very aggressive oncoming traffic. In an effort to stop this potential disaster, I take off sprinting after the dog. I’m watching the dog trying to judge her distance to the road, at the same time, I’m trying to judge my distance from the dog and at the speed I’m running, will I get to her before she gets to the road? My brain along with my legs are racing with calculations of distance and pace. The dog is close to the road. I am close to the dog. She gets closer, I get closer. She pauses for a spit second behind a parked car and that's all I need.  A split second pause was enough for me to not only reach her, but also to get a hold of her collar. Phew, such a relief. But now what? My goal was to stop the dog wandering out onto the street, beyond that I had no plan. 

First thing I do, get the dog some water. The second is to contact the Park Ranger and inform him of the situation. Then we wait. Poochie and I sit for about an hour. She’s all stressed, and I’m trying to reassure her with constant pats and rubs that everything will be ok, although I have no idea if that’s true. All I know is I can’t leave her here, it’s getting dark and coyotes are prevalent in these parts at night. Then I’m thinking, I can’t let her go with the Park Ranger either, they’ll just give her to some animal shelter and if nobody claims her, then bad things will happen. Now I’m stressing. I whip out my phone and open up a dialog with Husband, basically I’m trying to give him the heads up that our little animal family, is about to get a little bit bigger. Fintan (my Kitty) won’t be pleased, not by a long shot, but I’m sure with time, they’ll both become best friends. 

Poochie and I are starting to get pretty comfortable around each other when all of a sudden I notice her ears pop up, she’s on her feet, staring at a man walking along the trail. Good sign. Park Ranger arrives and begins to ask me some questions, but I point to the man walking towards us and explain that we may have found the owner, at least Poochie believes she has. Turns out the man is a friend of the owner and has been out helping her search for the dog. I’m so relieved. Relieved the dog was not struck by a car. Relieved she is happy and going back to her own home and relieved that I now don’t have to worry about Fintan’s reaction to a new step-sister. Everything has worked out. Happy endings all round, not least for this little fella here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Filter? What Filter

Apparently I have no filter. As in, I will say and respond verbally, to any given situation without thinking, not for one second. This news was broken to me by one of my good friends at work, Melissa.

Melissa and I have been working closely now for about 7 months and recently she plucked up the courage to tell me that she sometimes lives in fear of the next word or sentence that may fall out of my mouth. Seemingly my blunt honestly, colorful language, dramatic twists and creative vocabulary is something she has never been hit head on with before.

I have to say, up to this point it's never really been an issue. At this stage in my life my good friends have been my good friends for a very, very long time and my family, well they know me even longer so I guess everyone has become accustom to my randomness of thought and huge inability to filter any of those thoughts before the exit my mouth. But now my attention has been drawn to it and an awareness exists where once there was none. So now I worry.

I worry that I’ve said the wrong thing. (“Hey, I saw you walk right into that glass door, Oh my God, how embarrassing for you”. “Kim you seem mentally unstable today, seriously, I’m afraid to turn my back you, what’s going on??” )

I worry that I may have shared too much. (“Girl, can you smell me from over there, cos I think I forgot to put deodorant on today?” )

I worry that I may unintentionally be offending. (“God, the humidity does awful things to your hair, doesn’t it?” )

Wow, as I write I can see Melissa’s point. I do appear to be somewhat challenged in the filter department. Oops. What can I say in my defense, only that its a reflex. If I had to put it in scientific terms I would probably say that "Its an unconscious, reflective reaction to any given and almost every situation". But at least I know now. I know and I’ve started to spot the circumstances where a filter was desperately needed. Unfortunately its still happening after the fact. But baby steps, baby steps, there is alot of relearning to happen here.

P.S. Melissa has begun to use her body language as a way of red-flagging me to the fact that I maybe in the throws of a desperately needed filter situation.

E.g. Face falling into hands while moving head slowly from side to side = I can't believe you just said that.

Shocked facial expression and wide eyes, alla deer in head-lights = I can't believe you just said that.

Melissa saying "I can't believe you just said that" = I can't believe you just said that.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Power of Words

I’ve been racing around all day today, trying to utilize the weekend to tackle all the things a crazy work week does not allow me to do. Endless chores, endless errands. Squeezing in a work out, tapping into my multi-tasking abilities by catching up with friends over dinner, thus allowing me to fulfill my basic need for food along with my basic need for sharing and obtaining information, otherwise know as, gossip. 

My “To-Do” list feels endless and I operate at high speed from the second I get up till its time to go to bed. I get frustrated with anyone who tries to stand in the way of my schedule, for example, a telemarketer calling just as I’m running out the door, having to turn the car around for a forgotten wallet, too many red lights on my way to the bank. All of it elevates my stress levels and intensifies the pressure and expectation that I won’t get it all done. 

Today, however something stopped me in my tracks. A gesture that was so simple, so unexpected, but unbelievably thoughtful and heartfelt. It was a card. A card that almost got lost amongst the junk mail. Addressed to me. Confused I began to open it as I try to think what it could possibly be. Birthday is the only thing that comes to mind, but mine is months away. So I go ahead a pull it out. “Thank You” is what the front of the card is telling me. I’m still confused. Have I really done something nice for someone lately?? Not that I’m not capable of nice, of course I am, but at this moment I’m struggling to recall, so I just go ahead and read.

Once read I’m lost for words. The card is from Nancy. Nancy, for those of you who may not remember is Paula’s mom and Paula is the stunner I photographed a few weeks ago for Prom. They loved their photos and they wanted to let me know.

“Nancy and Paula, I am beyond excited that you loved your photos and for you to take the time to put pen to card and explain this to me, wow, all I can say is “it was my absolute pleasure and you are so welcome”. Your thoughtful card stopped me dead in the middle of a whirlwind of chores and made me smile, so for that reason alone, I placed it front and centre on our book self.”

See, I wasn't kidding.