Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas Indeed!

On Christmas Eve, I worked in the morning and then headed out to Mr. Burns house who would be returning from the airport with some family members who were visiting. As I drove, I found myself behind a woman in a Mercedes, who stopped in the middle of traffic and dashed out her car.

I watched as she delivered a decorated gift bag to a homeless person who was panhandling on the street. I figured I'd stay behind her car, rather than pull around her so that I could help protect her car from another driver who might not realize she was stopped.

She got back in the car and went half a block before she stopped the car again. She handed the next group of homeless panhandlers gift bags and cash. I studied the inside of her car and determined it looked like her three teen-aged sons were with her... and something was taking up space on the back seat, as two boys were sitting close together on one end of the seat bench.

I continued to follow the Mercedes, mesmerized. They were stopping traffic to hand out gift bags and large bills to all the homeless people they saw!

I gave a gentle honk and gave them both thumbs up as I smiled from ear to ear -- and even missed my turn by 5 blocks because I so enjoyed witnessing the act of kindness!.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Spirit of Christmas?

I have been mystified.
It started sometime in the past ten years - when it seemed to suddenly become inappropriate to wish someone a Merry Christmas. 'Happy Holidays' is somehow more politically correct. Someone, society maybe, is trying to suck Christ out of Christmas.

I decided years ago to fight it. I will say 'Merry Christmas' and I'll mean it. I'm not trying to squelch anybody else's beliefs - but I will not deny my own.

Then I noticed, every time I wish a heart-felt 'Merry Christmas' to a stranger in a store - I get a knot in my throat and tears in my eyes. A bit mystifying. A bit disturbing. Am I struggling internally with forcing my faith on someone else? Or is it just an extension of my inability to sing hymns in church without being moved to tears?

Am I a true Christian sharing my faith, or am I just making lip service by wishing someone a Merry Christmas?

Last night I rushed into a Ross store after work to pick up some cheap supplies for our Christmas celebration. Serving spoons, a nice platter - that sort of thing - without having to drop a lot of cash. I'm unemployed/underemployed again this year and I'm not buying Christmas gifts for my whole family - so I certainly didn't want to go overboard on supplies.

After I checked out and was walking to my car, a woman sitting in the entryway greeted me.
"How are you tonight?" she asked.
"Good and you?
"I'm homeless." she said.
"Oh no." I replied. "Can I help you with anything?"
"Can you give me money for a warm cup of coffee?"
"Sure." I pulled out $5 and handed it to her, figuring she could get that and something to eat at the pancake house next door.
"I could use a blanket to keep warm." she offered.

I thought for second, realizing that I could go back into the store and get her a blanket or a comforter from the home department. Then I remembered the blanket I keep in the trunk of my car in case of being stranded. I went and got it for her.

When I returned, she slipped her feet out of her cheap, ill-fitting sneakers. They were bandaged and crusty and swollen. She told me that she'll get Disability in two weeks but for now she has nothing. She said her foot was swelling quickly.

I thought about the City Mission, but reasoned that she must know about it and if she wasn't already there she probably didn't want to be there. (I could be wrong.) I wondered if there was a cheap motel nearby where I could get her a room for $20. I wanted to help, I told her, but I just got laid-off myself and don't have a lot of money. (I felt a bit of a lie - as I am struggling for the lifestyle I am accustomed to... but I have plenty.)

I looked at her feet again. "Do you have socks?"
"Let's see if we can get you some warm boots."
She sprang from her seat and followed me to the shoe department where I learned she wears a size 11. Of course there were only about five items in the size 11 section - so we settled on a pair of fuzzy lined, rubber soled slippers with plenty of room for her swollen, bandaged foot and a pair of socks.

It cost about $15.
I figured I'm not buying anyone else gifts, I can at least do this. ( I could probably do more.)

I met her back at the entryway and told her I hope they would be warm.
She asked if she could come stay at my house that night.
I said I didn't have room. (I mean, what do you do?)

I wondered if she went to the hospital for her foot if they would keep her overnight and before I said it aloud, realized they wouldn't. I didn't know what to do. How else I could help. (Frankly, without inconveniencing myself more.)
I did sincerely want to help, but I also didn't want her sleeping on my couch.

And now I am still struggling. I did show her kindness - but was I Christ-like?

I turned to leave and wished her a Merry Christmas - there was no knot in my throat, and no welling of tears - and she is the first person who wished it back with real sincerity in her voice.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


You haven't heard too much about Mr. Burns around these parts lately - and that's only because I'm carefully sorting out thoughts and feelings, and enjoying the complete turn-around from last year at this time.

There is a lot of 'future-talk' these days. He has suggested that if we were to get married, we should live in his condo for a year or so to save up for a house. The idea scares me (not the marriage - but living in his small condo) because my best friend moved into her husband's tiny house in 2002 and they are still there -- now with two children!!

My chief complaint is that there are only two closets... a coat closet and a walk-in closet in the master bedroom (the spare room doesn't even have a closet - it was designed to be an office.) I suggested that if I were to move in, we would have to redesign the closet space to accommodate both of us. So last weekend, he bought an elfa closet system and we installed it together. Amazing! He keeps opening the closet doors and saying, "Wow!"

The redesign required completely emptying his closet - removing the old builder-grade shelves and rods - installing the new system - and then organizing his stuff back in the new closet.

In the process he uncovered something he picked up years ago in Korea when he was sent there for a few months on his first job out of college.

They're called Marriage Ducks. A traditional gift for a Korean couple, each duck represents the bride and groom - and is a symbol of the status of their marriage.

Traditional Korean Weddings always include a pair of Korean Wedding Ducks. Ducks mate for life, and are revered by the Korean people as symbols of loyalty and fidelity in a marriage. After the marriage, the Wedding Ducks are placed in the home of the newlyweds. If the ducks are facing each other, nose to nose, then the marriage is happy. If the ducks are facing away from each other, tail to tail, then the couple is fighting. The female duck has blue and red strings tied around her bill as a reminder to keep silent and always support her husband.
I was touched that he thought to buy the ducks back in his early twenties - clearly expecting marriage at some point in his life - and that now after many years this hopeful souvenir might turn out to be meant for me/us.

He surprised me further by taking them out of their box and setting them on the fireplace mantle, nose to nose, above our hanging Christmas stockings.

The next day I was especially crabby - due to outside forces. With the fuel from all my negative energy I ended up cleaning most of his house. The circumstances that made me angry kept swirling in my head as I thought of all the sassy retorts I could fling at those who irritated me to this state. I evaluated my crabby mood and thought about the ducks - and how it would benefit me to keep my mouth shut rather than spout out all the complaints in my head.

When Mr. Burns returned home, along with all the cleaning I accomplished... he noticed the female duck and the string I had tied around her beak, then burst out laughing.

I don't know if it was the cleaning and burning off my angry jet fuel that improved my mood for the rest of the day - or my acknowledgement of my big fat mouth.

But I think the ducks are a great idea.

The Challenge

I tend to challenge assumptions. Particularly as a single woman.

Once, just after I completed college I had to call my High School to get some transcripts or some such.

So I called my High School and a student, working in the school office answered. I told her what I needed and she asked for my name. I told her my name, the same as I introduced myself at the start of the phone call.

"I mean your maiden name." she said.
"One in the same." I replied. "I've only just finished college, not married yet."


Shortly after I bought my condo, a friend, also a new homeowner told me about a home store going out of business. She knew I wanted to change my bathroom sink and thought I might find a deal there.

I remembered to swing by after work one day - failing to bring my measurements with me - but thinking I could look around.

A salesman swarmed me, and upon hearing I wanted a pedestal sink showed me a sink that could suffice for a tub!
"I think that is too big for my space. I'm sorry, I forgot to bring my measurements."

He went on about it being a 'regular size'. Not realizing that I live in an older building and not an oversized modern home that needs a sink the size of a swimming pool to bring things to scale.

He was relentless - trying to push the sink on me. I insisted my determination that it would not fit between the toilet and the tub and suddenly he was hit with a bright idea.
"You could call. Find out the right measurement."

I didn't skip a beat.

"Call? Call where, my home? Who would answer? I'm here. I am not home. I cannot answer at home if I am here."

He did not understand.
So I clarified.

"I'm not married. I live alone. There is no husband to come to my rescue here."

He was bewildered. As if I couldn't own a home without a husband or something.

Anyway. I left the salesman, looked around the store and found the perfect pedestal sink (petite size) for $49 and hired a handyman to install it.

I still love that sink!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


I'm pretty sure I woke up this morning, already upset. Not that I'm ever very cheery in the morning but something was weighing on my mind.

I'm trying to find more of my own personal space in my life and part of that comes in the form of time away from my and everyone else's blog - and checking my email only occasionally. I have a bit of an Internet addiction... once I'm on it ... hours fly by. I'm losing my life.

So now I'm choosing to only minimally check my email, lest I be sucked in by the rest of the Internet.

I'm on my HOA board - at this point - mainly because I don't trust what the board will do if I'm NOT on it. The Board President sent a snarky email saying he hasn't heard from any of us about the email he sent Saturday morning. I first saw both of these emails on Monday when I finally got around to checking my email- and explained that to him - only to get a response back that he checks HIS email a couple times a day and it's not too much to expect that we all do the same.

FINE! Maybe you aren't addicted to the Internet like I am!

Suddenly, my head was swirling with everything that keeps me from living the life I want right now.
But mainly, I can't stand it when I feel that someone is upset with me so it spun 'round and 'round inside me. Until I called Mr. Burns to let it out.

Then I was talking about resigning from the board - and selling my condo and ... and ... and...

Mr. Burns said, "I'm finally understanding how you get when your period starts."
He was right. I was more emotional than I needed to be, and that was exactly why.
Then he said, "The first few times it was like, 'Jeez, she's crazy'. But now I know it just is what it is."

I had to laugh - because as menstrual symptoms go - the sweet Lord has spared me. I get serious fatigue the first day then it's mostly over with. Until I was regularly around Mr. Burns I didn't realize how emotional I get (also the first day) - and that's probably because I have enough girlfriends to spout off to that they never had to hear it every month. But poor Mr. Burns is my go-to set of ears and shoulders now.

So I laughed and told him that compared to a lot women, I'm not even very bad. (though I do think my emotional range is worse now as I'm getting older). He agreed, reminding me that I once broke down and declared myself "Just a pile of goo." That is what he refers to me as at those times now.

Actually, I think that ought to keep him around because if I'm pretty mild - he doesn't want to find out what 'normal' PMS is like in other women!!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I know my life is not perfect. It is filled with challenges and complications that often frustrate me.

Finding the ideal job after 14 months of unemployment/ underemployment - and getting laid-off a year later. Finding a really good man and having to break up because something keeps him from being 100% invested. Buying a condo all by myself - and having the worst neighbor in the history of the world move in below me!!!

I know my life is not perfect. I know that no body's is. But it does seem that some people are charmed. Nothing seems to go wrong. Everything goes so smoothly, you wonder if they even notice.

Like the friend who announces her pregnancy to everyone she knows the second the stick turns blue. Really? You're not worried the stick is wrong, or that the pregnancy won't stick?
When every other friend I know dealt with at least one miscarriage before they had a pregnancy they could announce - it seems like just assuming everything is going to go perfectly is akin to taking that blessing for granted.

Or the friend who has to make up problems. With her husband's support, she's a stay at home mom - but stresses that their house is too small for their children to be proud of. That the baby's room isn't 100% Pottery Barn. Precious time with your children and enough blankets to be warm, no matter the label or thread count is nothing to take for granted.

So today, I am thankful for the challenges in my life. I can't take having a job for granted, I can't take a man who loves me unconditionally for granted. My parents, in their 70s are healthy and hilarious - can't take that for granted.

I've always said that taking so long to find the right guy - I would never take my husband, or the fact that I have a husband - for granted. And I don't think I ever could. (should that day arrive!)

Doing without should make a person appreciate that which she has.
I'm grateful for the challenges in my life because they make me appreciate the sweet, simple, easy stuff all the more.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Back to Sleep

My back - particularly my shoulders - are all kinds of jacked-up.

I've had a knot in my right shoulder for about 20 years now. It was dissolved for about a week around three years ago when my dear, dear friend Kikr treated me to her favorite massage therapist. If only I could afford to visit a 6' 7", 260lb, ex-marine-turned- massage-therapist in San Francisco once a week - perhaps I could keep that knot at bay.

I can't, so the knot is stubbornly at the base of my neck and screaming at me on a daily basis.
It screams really loudly in the mornings as I wake up laying on my back with my right shoulder next to my ear. It takes a good hour and a hot shower to ease the stiff pain.
This morning, I woke up with my right arm above my head, as if I were in a dramatic fainting scene in a silent film. Shoulder firmly planted next to my ear.

My chiropractor does not find this amusing. She enjoys my rendition of the story of course, but once she gets me on the table and starts cracking away she tells me just how out of alignment I am. Today even my ribs were out of place!! Not kidding.
If only I could afford to see her each week!

Today, she reminded me that lying on one's stomach immediately moves one's spine out of alignment. I knew it wasn't good for me, but I never before realized that it was that bad! I told her that I thought I was making progress because for the past year I've been waking up on my back. Yay me!
But the fact that I crawl into bed, ease to my right side for about 5 minutes then roll onto my stomach, cradling my pillow between my arms and my head until I fall asleep has her concerned. We don't know what time of the night or morning I move to my back.

She told me that some folks sew pockets on the front of their PJs and fill them with tennis balls to avoid rolling onto their tummy. I imagined that it would take just two attempts to roll over before those tennis balls find themselves across the room!!

How do you fall asleep? Have you ever had to break the habit of sleeping on your stomach - and how did you do it?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mourning a Friendship

Distance can take a toll on some friendships. In some friendships, I'm the one who moved. I live 10 hours away from some of my closest friends. Others are movers too - and I live half a continent away from each of them - and oddly, they keep in contact the best.

The opportunities to see everyone who has scattered all over the country are rare, so we stay in contact by phone and email. Prior to all these social network advances - it was always mystifying when we found ourselves on the same sofa after years passed - yet it felt as though time hadn't passed at all. Such a beautiful quality of friendship. There are no gaps!

I truly value those friendships in which - even after not speaking for six or nine months, when you do reconnect - neither of you are bitter for the time that passed. You're just happy to connect again, knowing another year may pass before you catch up again - but the connection will always be as warm.

That's part of why I think Facebook is a bit deceiving, as it allows us to feel that we are connected by daily contact when really, we're just sort of eavesdropping. Real connections take effort.

I've come to realize that over the years - some friendships stand the test of time. Other friends are in our lives just for seasons. There is a reason God brings us together. It's not always for
a lifetime, but it always enriches your life. People leave their mark.

Some friends have drifted away. Sometimes it hurts. Other times, years pass before you even realize that someone is no longer in your life. They just sort of fade out - and that's okay.

Twice in my life, friendships have ended because it was the other person's choice and not mine. I had every intention of knowing these women into our old age - but for some reason they are done with me.

Right now I am struggling with the difference between a mutual fade - and being dumped. The difference is, months can pass and when I reach out to reconnect, my efforts are ignored. I have found that I have made three or four attempts in the past year - and received no response. Efforts begin to feel like pleas... and still nothing. It's the lack or response that tears at me.

It makes me wonder. Have I done wrong? Was I hurtful? Are they just preoccupied with their husband and children and all the blessings that we prayed for one another to have? Did I offend?

Or worse.

When someone you love becomes someone you don't know - it can be because of something very painful in their lives that they are not ready or willing to share. Marriage trouble, sick children, dying parents. As their friend you don't want them to struggle. You want to give assistance. You want to be Christ to them.

But that may not even be what is happening. This person is done with me and doesn't feel the need to give a reason.

This time I am really struggling with the rejection.
It seems when someone has shared the intimate details of your life and theirs, that they shouldn't just pull out without a word.
There is a special bitterness that I hate to admit - I poured hours of love and prayers into baby gifts that I sewed for her family. I know it sounds silly but to me that feels like an investment - and it hurts even more to be ignored.

I really want to shake this loose from my heart - but it pulls at me almost daily.

My bloggy friends - tell me - how have you come to terms with the loss of a friend?

Monday, November 02, 2009

Small Accomplishment

I ran out of drawer space ages ago.
If I could keep a job and make some money, I would buy a new dresser set but that for now, is not an option.

So last winter I cleared my tights selection out of a drawer and stored them in a canvas bin in one of my closets. The only problem being, the bin liner is affixed with Velcro - which is a certain blight to tights and hosiery!

For nearly a year, I put off the task of stuffing each pair of collants into sandwich baggies. I'm pleased to announce that I tackled that job this morning! Yay. Small accomplishment.

I did realize that inside each bag, it's hard to tell the style of the tights so I wrote and stuffed brief descriptions inside.
Black fishnet, reinforced toe. Gray opaque stripe. Brown herringbone.

Quite satisfied as I stuffed them all back into the canvas bin. Then I realized it would still be a chore to know exactly what I was dealing with without digging.

Wouldn't it be even more useful to have an inventory - so that when I think I need a certain style of tights to complete an outfit... I could check against the inventory and make sure not to purchase a repeat?

Brilliant! Thought I.

Oh - and I also made notes about damage, like "snags above the knees" so I would know not to bother pulling them on for a shorter skirt.

If I wanted to be really organized, I could add corresponding numbers to the inventory and to the slips of paper inside - so if I'm looking for a pair - I can just refer to the number.

I also considered taking pictures of each tight on my leg so that I could see the texture and style immediately.
Will think about that.

Obviously, this was done in avoidance of scrubbing my kitchen floor.
I don't even wear tights very often!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Clash of the TV Viewing Habits

When the new TV season started - FlashForward looked like an interesting show. Mr. Burns and I found ourselves aboard an airplane on the evening of it's premire, so we set the DVR that night and every Thursday night since.

Now, Mr. Burns doesn't find much he likes on regular network TV (ironic - as that is where I work, local TV - on the low numbered channels - that is) so it's a big effort to get him to agree to watch a series with me. This weekend, we sat down to watch the first two episodes. I found it intriguing. He isn't so impressed with drama - particularly the type that drags out.

In addition to that, we have different TV/Movie-watching styles. I'm a "I-didn't-hear-what-they-said-let's-rewind."- type of viewer. (I mean, what is rewind for if not that?) He is a "Let's-not-take-a-whole-hour-to-watch-an-hour-show"- type of viewer.
These two types can clash.
So after I twice asked for a rewind to make out some mumbled dialogue... I tried really hard not to miss anything for the rest of an episode. Just the sort of thing you do to make someone happy.

As the episode came to an end and a bit of information was revealed to answer a built-up mystery and keep you hooked for next week -- I said, "I pretty-much guessed that would happen."

Mr. Burns, declared that unfair. "You can't say you predicted something after it happens. That's cheating. You have to say so before it happens, or you could claim to have predicted everything!"

This is an annoyance he has voiced before. But, I felt caught in cross hairs.
"You don't want me to talk during the program, and you don't like to pause or rewind." I figured I had him.
He smirked and said, "Well, you can interrupt to tell me a prediction!"
(Okay, but some other people hate when people do that! - namely me!)
So we mockingly bickered back and forth about TV viewing etiquette - and he tried to trump me with his sound reasoning. Until I shot back... "You know, if I have to spend the rest of my life dancing around your delicate eco-system - this just isn't going to work!!"

I thought I had him.
Then he said, "I'd prefer it if you tip-toed around my eco-system."


Monday, October 19, 2009

Airport Observations

I took another trip with Mr. Burns this weekend. He's making the rounds with me - making sure the people most important to him see just how fabulous I am! (at least that's my story)

The trip was great. We travel well together and just spending time together is good because he's been away for work so much lately.

So we spent some time in airports and let me tell you ... that's a fine place to find people doing stupid things!

Maybe not everyone has spent as much time in DIA as I... but I can tell you that the women's restrooms in the terminals all have the same layout. You walk in through a little curve and the first section is sinks only. You bypass the wash area to get to the toilet stalls.

That would be the blue line in this diagram.

Then you do your business and move on to the sinks.

I really don't see how anyone can miss this. It's pretty easy to surmise the layout the second you are in the room. There is even the benefit of mirrors to confirm that there is nothing in that first section but sinks.

I'm guessing tons of women are just looking at their feet! Those feet watching women follow the red line - walking straight in without paying attention. Then when I come out for the sinks (the orange line) I have to stand there and get all tangled up as they figure out what they missed, and head toward the toilet area! Gah! So annoying.

I wonder if I'm just more observant (and possibly more impatient). Or if it's really that tricky?
Just stay to the left going in.. and to the left again heading to the sinks and everyone stays out of every one's way!


But the real annoyance was a mom in the Austin airport.

Her two kids were happily doing a little maypole dance around a group of those little line barriers... the kind where the strap retracts to inside the pole. When the TSA wants to form a nice little mouse maze - they connect the poles by pulling the strap out and sliding it onto the next pole.
Anyway, there were about 4 poles corralled, out-of-use. The girl was 3 or 4 and the boy was 6 or 7 years old. They played follow-the-leader and London Bridge type games. The were reasonably quiet - to the point that they weren't annoying any neighboring passengers.

All a mom could dream of. No?

Not this mom. She ceaselessly barked orders. "Don't push your brother." "Don't pull on that strap." "Don't make your sister scream." (okay that was a good one, but she wasn't screaming!) "I said, don't touch that." "Do as I say."

I couldn't believe it. Here, her kids were A) burning off energy (good for pre-boarding) B) Entertaining themselves C) Reasonably quiet D) not hurting each other and E) not damaging property. For some reason this mom couldn't see that. She just barked and barked at them.

It made me wonder if she thought she was showing off her mom skills by micro-managing her kids' every move.

I thought she was doing a good job of turning them into little neurotics!

I don't want to judge other people's parenting - but come on - this lady probably watches them sleep and then gives them pointers in the morning!! Lighten up!!!

I asked Mr. Burns to make sure I never act like that if I have kids. He promised.

Well, now I feel compelled to end on a positive note - so... ummm.... I found no offenders of my baggage claim rule. I hate it when people crowd around the baggage carousel - creating a barrier for anyone who actually SEES their bag! I say, 5- 10 feet buffer between the crowd and the carousel... so that people can actually get in and claim their bag.

We didn't have to step on anyone the whole trip! Success!

Friday, October 09, 2009

A Hypothetical Question & Something Very Good

I have a pretty large extended family, being Catholic and all. Most of my cousins are more than 15 years older than me - and only a handful of cousins in my age group. The beauty of this generational spread is the ability to learn life lessons from peers with a great deal more maturity and life experience.

My oldest cousin on my mom's side of the family is a brilliant and brilliantly witty man - married to a woman who is clever enough to keep him on his toes.

Shortly after their daughter was married, my cousin's wife posed a hypothetical question: "If you and (our daughter's husband) are both drowning... who do you want me to save?"

This question flabbergasted him. Suddenly, he was torn between being the man charged with caring for and protecting this lovely young girl for the past 25 years - and the knowledge that there was another man, whom God has chosen for her, given the same charge.

Perhaps more so, he was struck with the realization that his loving daughter's life might be affected much more dramatically from the loss of this 'new guy' than it might if he himself met an untimely demise.

It's an incredible, thought-provoking hypothetical.
Just what is love? What are you willing to sacrifice for the people you love the most? How do you determine what is best for them?

Last week, Mr. Burns shared his own realization with me. Said he; "I'm learning that I'm more concerned about your well-being than my own."

In the words of the incomparable Bridget Jones, "An excellent year's progress."

Monday, October 05, 2009

I'm a Little Peeved at Matt Damon Right Now

Mr. Burns and I rarely see movies at the movie theatre - so last night we thought it would be a treat.

We decided to go see "The Invention of Lying", but the only available showtime was later than we wanted. So Mr. Burns suggested "The Informant" and I agreed. Neither of us knew much about the movie except for a few clips that looked funny. And we figured, it's Matt Damon - how can ya go wrong?

Yeah. If you click that link and watch the trailer... funny funny funny.
Yet, at the movie theatre, the only laugh in the whole film was provided when Damon tugged on his toupee! Seriously, for the rest of the audience too!
It's not just the lack of laughs. While the movie was interesting it was dry dry dry. Now, I love dry humor but this was mostly just uncomfortable.

It was like a dry, made for TV movie about a guy ratting out his company - except with exceptional acting.

A friend tells me this morning that it's supposed to based on a "This American Life" episode that detailed the story of this guy who worked with the FBI to take down Agri-Giant ADM. That the TAL episode was a riot and the movie was supposed be spot on.

I asked him to please go see the movie and report back - whether we just missed the point - or if the movie really does stink!

From where I stand... Matt Damon owes us $31.50 for the movie tickets, popcorn and soda.

Ah yes... I also wanted to share with you a lesson learned from this movie.
Damon's character, Mark Whitacre is working with the FBI to uncover a price-fixing plot in his company. Based on a true story. Whitacre is caught up in the excitement of being an informant. Whenever they reach what appears to be a dead-end, he either makes up something, or reveals information that can only hurt him worse. His wife wants to stand by him, but you start to think there is no way she can respect him.

It made me think... if my husband (presumably Mr. Burns) acted that stupidly, it would be really really hard to stand by him. I am confident that Mr. Burns is not that stupid, or arrogant, or selfish - but it was also a hard realization to think "Man, I would HAVE to leave!"
I told him so... and he said, "Thanks a lot!"
But seriously, please don't be that stupid.

Friday, October 02, 2009


Thanks for checking in on me.
I'm fine, just lacking for time and inspiration.

I have updates coming soon!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Do You Gossip?

The grocery store checkout line usually moves rather quickly, but tonight the guy in front of me held it up, trying to get his club membership discount.
I didn't mind. Every $5 counts these days. I'm happy to let him save his.

To pass the time, I glanced at the magazines stocked in the impulse purchase racks. One of them had a picture of Tori Spelling on the cover (looking fabulous) with her husband and the headline, "Tori's Loveless Marriage".

Disgusted, I looked away. But as I whiled the time, my eyes landed there again. I thought, "How do they know? Why is it anybody's business? If their marriage does have troubles, how does a headline like that help them heal? Disgusting."

I turned to the woman waiting behind me and said, "What a horrible thing to print in a headline!" and indicated the magazine.

"It's just there to sell magazines. " She replied, in agreement it seemed.

"I just won't buy those kinds of magazines." I said, then glancing at the InStyle magazine among my purchases I explained, "InStyle only photographs celebrities on the Red Carpet and at charity events, so they have permission and the stars expect it and are prepared, and can interview them properly. And features in their homes, where of course they have permission."

I moved up to have the cashier start ringing my items.

Continuing the conversation with the woman behind me, I said; "That's why I won't buy magazines like that. The one's whose pictures are all from paparazzi. I can't stand it."

The cashier chimed in, "But those are the best ones!"

Oh, I was shocked and fought the urge to slap some sense into her.
Instead I said, "If they're at an event and can expect to be photographed it's one thing. But to stalk them outside their homes when they're just taking the kids out for ice cream... it's just not right. "

I hoped I had made my point.
But I doubted that I had, so I added, "I guess because I'm a trained journalist I find it that much more despicable."

The cashier gave up, but I sparked an interest in the woman behind me, with whom I had started the conversation.

Now she wanted to know who I worked for and stressed the importance of Journalism.
That was so good to hear in this day and age, where respect for journalists is lower than that of used car salesmen and ambulance chasing attorneys.

The woman behind me lifted me up a little. And while I was frustrated to know one more person (the cashier) loves those trashy rags, it was good to know there is one more person in America who understands the value of journalism - and how to tell a hoax from a real journalist.

One point for the rank and file.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Playing for Another Team

Many years ago I moved into a cute little apartment building in a charming neighborhood, just two blocks away from the Catholic Cathedral in that city. I was thrilled to start attending the Cathedral, as it is a beautiful church.

A few months later, I saw a notice for people interested in a young adult group at the Cathedral and went to it's very first meeting. There I met a guy who instantly became a friend. I remember that upon that first meeting I thought he was kind of cute, but wondered if he was gay.

We started spending time together within a week. First a bike ride. Maybe a movie. But never dating.

He lived just blocks from me and the Cathedral, in the cutest little Craftsman style house. It was easy for us to get together, and we enjoyed many of the same things.

He had a love for architecture that drew out the same in me. By associating with him, I finally started to understand why I loved what I loved about buildings and houses. I learned the names of certain features and styles.

We both loved everything from the same era. I'd found someone to troll antique stores with.

When my friends met him, they'd ask if he was gay. Because I knew about his interests and attractions - which indicated he was straight - I would say so.

I moved away... and in our communication he shared sometimes that people asked him if he was gay and how frustrated he was by that.

My gay friends met him and declared him, "In the Closet"!

Hearing his frustrations with dating I often thought how much easier it would be for him if he were gay. I've known him for 12 years now and have never known him to date anybody. I've only heard about his frustrations in his pursuit of women.

A few days ago, I noticed his Faceb00k status had changed to 'in a relationship'.
What is this? I asked. Who is this? What is new?

He responded that he had changed teams a year ago and was now dating a really great guy.

I am so relieved and happy for him!

Another friend asked how I reconcile that with my Catholic faith. I know that the Church views Homosexuality as a sin. But I'm not thinking about bedroom activity. I am focused on my friend having a successful, loving relationship that makes him happy. That's what we all want.
I focus more on the Christian duty of loving my neighbor. Of loving my friend and being a friend. God has not put me here to judge. Our Lord will take care of that at the pearly gates. And I feel pretty strongly that since God made my friend, God will understand.
And I'm more concerned about God's view of how I treat those I come to know and care about. I doubt that scorning my friend will win favor with God.

And quite frankly, I'm much happier for my friend finding someone who loves and accepts him- than if he had entered into a marriage denying his authentic self - and deceiving a woman who likely signed up for a heterosexual marriage and all that entails.

How do you reconcile your faith with loving and accepting your friends?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Careful What You Ask For

I'm not liking most of the stuff that age is doing to my body. Primarily, the poochy tummy that is distorting my other-wise slender figure. Sometimes I think I must look like a snake that swallowed a badger!

Now, if I could just commit to doing abdominal exercises and laying off the carbs - I could probably whittle it away in no time. But I know that I lack the discipline to do so.

A few weeks ago, I began praying that God would give me the discipline I need. That I could dedicate myself to some crunches... and that I could resist the bread and sugary snacks that I love.

I told Mr. Burns that I asked God to help me resist carbs and Mr. Burns said, "Careful what you pray for!"

As for bread - I just don't buy any. If it doesn't come in my house I won't eat it. Instead I buy English Muffins to use as buns for my soy burgers, portabello burgers and even my breakfast sausage. For some reason, I won't scarf down English Muffins plain like I do those slices of wheat bread!

But sugar! Oh mercy do I love me some candy!

On Monday nights I cover City Council meetings which can last anywhere from 2 hours to 12! The longest I've covered was just over 4 hours.
I am a nibbler, so before the meeting starts I scout out the candy machines in the hallway and drop a few quarters for a handful or two of Hot Tamales and some Pistachios. I figure the Pistachios are healthy.

The candy machines only take quarters. On days that I only had nickels and dimes in my wallet I figured out that if I drop them in the soda machine - and hit the change return - the machine would exchange them for quarters. Success! And a Hot Tamales fix.

So this week, I had just emptied my coin purse without thinking before I went to work. Drat! No change at all.

I smugly pulled a dollar bill from my wallet, fed it to the soda machine and then heard the plink plunk in the change return. 20 nickels!!

I raised my face heavenward and said, "Very funny Lord. Way to keep me from the candy!"

Monday, August 17, 2009

On the Edge - Not Over

(sorry friends, I'm having trouble loading the pictures I want to this post - I'll try again tomorrow)
(no luck. is anyone else having trouble placing pictures in their post?)

I managed to visit two of our country's National Parks this past weekend. Arches and Canyonlands near Moab, Utah. I loved it. So completely beautiful and awe inspiring.

I don't know for sure who Wallace Stegner is but I agree with his sentiment;

"National Parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely
democratic, they reflect us as our best rather than our worst."
It is amazing what you can learn when you are completely immersed in nature. Sure, when it comes to how those glorious arches were formed you learn about geology, erosion, the effects of time.

It was our venture to see Canyonlands that I learned something about someone who loves me.

Mr. Burns, his sister and I went for the weekend. She was visiting from their home state. Once we were in Canyonlands and we all got out of the car to take in a view of the jagged cliffs and rocks jutting out from miles below - she couldn't avoid her fear of heights. She explained a tingly, eebie jeebies feeling that runs down the back of her legs.

I just cannot relate to a fear of heights. I've heard people talk about the feeling of vertigo when encountering heights or in this case, depths below them. But seeing as I am a person who LOVES heights, I can't really understand. Actually, to me - it seems like an irrational fear. As long as you have good footing - how is it scary?

As comedian Steven Wright used to say; "I'm not afraid of heights. I'm afraid of widths."

Much more logical to me.

I learned that Mr. Burns shares this fear with his sister. He is fine as long as there is something to support him... like a railing, or a safety cage, or a secure rope. Something firmly placed between him and splat.

I - on the other hand - am so unafraid of heights that it can be dangerous. I once had the privilege of standing atop the presidential heads of Mount Rushmore. I kept wandering to the front of one face with my camera and at one point the park ranger tied a rope around my waist! I thought he was teasing, being overly dramatic.

It wasn't until we were working our way back down the rear of the carving, and someone pointed out where I had been standing... (below Abe's hairline) that I realized why the park ranger was concerned.

I do have a pretty good grip on my limitations. And realistically, if it had been that dangerous, the ranger would have foregone the rope and just told me to get my butt back where it belongs! (it's not like they can risk loss of life on their watch! He's not going to risk his job for my whim.)

Not only am I unafraid of heights, I'm attracted to them. I love to be on the edge and I'm a bit of a mountain goat.

When I was kid, I climbed the grain bins on our farm. Any time there was a ladder propped against anything - any building - I was at the top of it.

So when viewing the canyons from the fence along the viewing platform didn't really do it for me - I wandered over to an open vista.

The dramatic view was irresistible so I set my camera on my backpack, used the self-timer and snapped this shot.

When I turned back, I found Mr. Burns standing a few yards behind, on the sidewalk with his arms crossed and a stern look on his face.

I smiled and said, "See. I'm alive. I didn't fall."

He was not amused.
I reminded him that I'm not afraid. It's no big deal.
He told me that whether I am afraid or not, the danger is real.
I disagreed. I know the limits.

He explained that if I fell, and found myself hanging onto that proverbial daisy, like in cartoons - he would not be able to go after me, and then he would look like a jerk!

But it was when he said that now he knew what it must feel like to see your child get hurt or in a place of danger - that I realized he really does love me.

There he was, torn between his fear of danger and his desire to keep me safe.

It's good to know.

I don't like putting him in that position. But I don't see how I can stay away from the edge. It's one of the few thrills in my life. He'll just have to look away.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bloggy Friends!

I'm so honored that the funny, talented and creative Katie asked me to be a part of Blogger to Blogger this week. It's Katie's feature in which we interview each other.
Don't you love the outfit see made for me?
Go here to see our 'interview'.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Miles Away But Within Arms' Reach

I feel like I'm losing touch with some of my old friends.

You see. I have two kinds of friends. Some who, like me, have moved and moved and moved - if not all over the country - then from city to city. These are the friends who keep in touch the best because we all know the importance of maintaining old friendships. Yes, we can make new friends in our new cities, but there is nothing like an old friend who loves you over the miles.

The others are friends who have lived in one city their whole lives. I'm the one who moved away so the onus is on me to maintain contact. Otherwise - out of sight-out of mind.

Within the stay-put friends, there is another category of those who have married and had children. This single girl in the city just isn't on their radar anymore. It hurts.

I've been thinking about all these weddings I have attended - and I can't recall the part of the vows that says "I vow to forget about all our single friends. Only you and I exist now."
I promise you I have never heard that part in a marriage ceremony, yet it seems to be true for all. Maybe only the married people can hear it!

A few months ago - one of those married with children friends insisted that I join F&ceb00k. It's such a great way to stay in touch she said.
It was... for a while. Now she hardly even updates her status. She never comments on mine. But most serious, she doesn't call or email me anymore - nor does she respond to my calls and emails.

The Internet creates an illusion that we are so very connected to all of our friends. But it's actually a disservice. It is just an illusion. Now that we have daily peeks into our friends worlds - we don't bother to make the phone call. Or plan for a visit.

It's been bothering me a lot lately - so I said just that on my F&ceb00k status today.

The first response back was from a former co-worker, now 700 miles away from me who lost his 6-month-old son last week. They woke up one morning and found him dead in his crib. The funeral was today.

He read what I had to say... and here is his response...
You are wrong. I am so grateful to have this network. I have reconnected with many friends I had completely lost contact with, and it has helped me through this tragic time in my life. I was holed up in my room...unable to talk or see anyone. Yet I could read my friends comments and feel loved and take comfort in it.
I think both perspectives are true.

If not for the Internet, I would not even know how much this old friend is hurting and I would not have even known to send a card of condolence. But through this faceless technology, I have been able to offer tiny, meager words of support - and they mean more to him than I can possibly know.

A blessing and a curse; this technology. We should all use it wisely. Support our friends in simple ways but never forget that hearing their voice or lending a shoulder is worth more than every communication in your tw!tter account combined.

People are flesh and blood and feelings. 1100011000010000111100001010 's can never replace that.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fast Friends

I have a new friend.

We met a bit over a year ago, but didn't start spending time together until this spring. In the past few months we became fast friends. The type of friend you connect with right away - feel an immediate, improbable bond - you finish one another's sentences within days of knowing one another.

The sort of friend who is easy to spend time with, because you somehow agree on everything, from sharing a soda (real Coke please, no diet) to where to sit in a movie theatre. Or you agree to meet up a street festival - and find that you're wearing the same style sundress! (different prints of course - but exact same style! Because what else would you wear to a street festival on a hot summer day?)

Beyond that, we respect one another's differences.
Going into them here might get too personal - but I had to laugh when I told her about a sewing project I'm working on. She rolled her eyes and declared me "one of THOSE people!" expressing her envy of my creative side.

By way of explanation I told her it's because in high school, when my classmates were taking pre-calculus - I was taking second year sewing.

As I revealed this, there was a small spot inside of me that was prepared for ridicule. Instead, I felt relief when she said, "I can guarantee that over time, you got more use of your sewing class than I did from pre-calc!"


and we're right back to understanding one another!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dog Days of Summer

I have but two grievances about Denver. I really love this city, the weather, the stunning lack of mosquitoes, the weather.

The two things that bug me about living here:
1) Summer is too short. It usually takes until June to warm up - and by mid-September it's chilly. Coming from Nebraska where the heat of summer blazes from Mid-April to the end of October... three puny months just isn't enough!

2) All the freaking dogs! I read once that Denver has more dogs per-capita than it has children. I believe this to be true. But allow that to roll around in your head. More dogs than children.
That means most households have two dogs and no kids. Instead of DINKs (double income no kids) we have DITDs (Double income two dogs)! The longer I live here, the more I look at dogs with disgust.

Don't get me wrong. It's not the dogs that bug me as much as the dog owners. In my condo building we have 22 units. 8 of them have dogs. (have mercy, I just did the count and was surprised it was only 8 dogs. It feels like I live with 18!!) These dogs bark at the drop of a hat. They run and jump on people. They have taken over the courtyard. It's a mad house!!

I don't understand how anyone takes pleasure in having a dog that isn't properly trained and socialized. Why wouldn't you want your dog to be a good citizen? A dog that is a joy for other people to be around.

On the first floor, there are two little yippy dogs and real dog (laborador) just moved in.
The first yippy dog barks when anyone gets their mail, opens the front door, or walks up the stairs. Seriously. That's at least 22 people coming and going every day. I can't believe this dog still has vocal chords (and I am very tempted to snip them myself!).

What if I had a tantrum every time someone came in the front door? Don't you think they'd send me to the looney bin?

The first yippy dog sets the second yippy dog off barking... and now the new dog joins in. I may as well live in the animal shelter.

Yesterday I went out to the courtyard to soak up some sun, and one of the neighbors was out there with her yippy dog and the Golden Retriever she was watching for one of the neighbors. The Golden jumped up on the hammock I was lying in not once, not twice, not even three times... but at least FIVE! Knocking me out every time!!
When I told him to sit he just ignored me! I raised my voice asking, "Why doesn't this dog know commands?!"

Someone please tell me - why would you have a dog and not bother to train it?
That is very much like having children and allowing them to grow up to be dull, stupid BRATS!

Tips for dog people. If you don't want other people to hate you - please try the following:
- Teach your dog to sit on command. Any one's command.
- Teach your dog to stop within at least 3 feet of another human (or dog) unless invited to approach.
- Teach your dog not to jump on people. You may enjoy being part of a pack - but some of us are wearing nice clothes, thank you very much.
- Keep your dog on a leash and teach it to heel. That means the dog stays in close proximity to you. Your dog should be able to heel even when not on a leash. Learning this will make all the steps above that much easier to accomplish.
- Pick up your dog's doodie. If you don't like this duty - don't have a dog. This is non-negotiable.
- Ask your neighbors whether your dog is quiet when you are away at work or out on errands. If the report reveals that your dog barks for more than 10 minutes upon your departure... this means your dog is a nuisance. Buy a shock collar or citronella collar and use it until your dog is trained not to bark. It works. Do it. I don't care if you think it is cruel or not. Forcing your neighbors to hear your bundle of joy bark all day is cruel and unusual punishment as well.

Please, if you are going to have a dog make it a dog that isn't a nuisance to everyone but you. You owe it to your dog. If it could speak, it would tell you it wants to be a good citizen.
Doing less than this is lazy and inconsiderate and dare I say... cruelty to animals.

Thank you.

Stepping off my soapbox and signing out.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Personal Preference - or Prejudicial?

Am I a bad person if I don't chat with the woman who is giving me a pedicure?

I broke down and got a mani-pedi the other day because - let me tell you - all 20 nails were looking nasty! Every attempt I made to remedy the nasty has just made it that much worse! For me, nail care is outsourced. I just can't do it alone.

As I sat in the huge massage chair beating away at my shoulder blades, two older women came in and I noticed they were pretty chatty with their nail techs.

It made me think... am I rude for not making conversation?
I'll admit, honestly, that half the reason I don't chat with them is because I can't understand them. I get the impression that they don't understand me either. The Korean to English translation being what it is.

But more to the point... when I'm paying for a pampering service I don't want to make chit-chat. I want to be pampered and relax.

When I get a massage, I don't chit-chat with the massage therapist - and we both speak English. In fact, when I started going to the spa (courtesy of gift cards from Mr. Burns) they had me fill out a form stating my conversation preference (and fragrance preferences which I REALLY appreciate). They understand that you're there to relax - and that they are there to facilitate the relaxation.

But now I wonder, when I stick my nose in all those glossy magazines that I don't get at home - and enjoy the pampering - maybe from her end of the big massage chair - it looks like I'm just stuck up and think I don't have to talk to the sweet lady rubbing and buffing my feet.

Yikes! I'm nicer than that.
But I'm there to relax. Is my introverted time offending someone else? Should I chit-chat anyway?

What do you do?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Faith, Fear and Reality

I know my strengths. I know my weaknesses. I know my limitations.
Sometimes I project my physical limitations on our Lord God. Probably not a bright idea.

This weekend I had a chance to talk with Mr. Burns and told him about my realization that I don't need perfect faith. Just faith. Like in the story of the woman of faith who reached out to Jesus for healing. I told him that I understood that I only have to believe.

He was happy to hear this because... well... our experiences with faith are different.
The fact that I am 39 years old and still want to have a baby (or two) doesn't bother him. He believes that God will give to me what He gave to Abraham and Sarah.

Sure. I still believe in miracles but I know too much.

Think of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden - once they gain knowledge their faith is shaken. When they had nothing but their belief and confidence in God to provide for them, they were fine. But a bite of the fruit from the tree of knowledge and poof - they ruined it for all of us!

Today we know way too much.
Science and experience tells us that a geriatric pregnancy has risks. Risks for mother and child.

When I was in my 20s - I met a group of kids with Cerebral Palsy for the first time. I'll admit that I was apprehensive about even being with them at first. I was there in an observation capacity. After spending only an hour with them... they wouldn't let me leave without hugs all around. They were so sweet.
I realized as I left, that they were constantly happy. Always smiling. Just enjoying life. They were beautiful. They weren't bothered with trivial things like paying rent or even their grades. It occurred to me then, what a life of bliss! Of course it's not all sweetness, but my impression at the time was that they weren't really bothered with petty details and that's a good place to be.

A few years later, I encountered another child with Cerebral Palsy. It was then that it struck me, the sort of thought that really feels like it's from God... That my child would be just like her. It didn't scare me. It was sort of a fact. An acceptance rather than dread.

And maybe that's why my dreams of motherhood have been delayed.
At my age, the likelihood - if I should ever get married and be blessed with a pregnancy - of having a child with Cerebral Palsy is high. If that thought was from God - I'm very likely to fullfill it.

And while I would accept that if God has that in my life path, I'm a little scared of it. There is no chance that I'll have a child before I'm forty. I'd be sixty-years-old by the time my child starts college. If I have a child who would be dependant on me for life, I may not even be able to give that child a suitable amount of parenting before I'm gone!

So, as I think about this way too much... I start to think... maybe I shouldn't even seek marriage. As a Catholic, in marriage (or out) I must be open to any child God sees fit to give me. And I would be, but the result of that could be overwhelming.

Just look at all those facts - all that knowledge that gets in the way of my faith!

I yearn to have faith like the hemorrhaging woman. Simply knowing that if I come to Jesus - He will give me what I need. If He gives a child with special needs - He will also give the strength and the patience and the longevity to care for that child.
I do believe that.
But sometimes reality gets in the way. Reality and fear.

Note: This post is about my feelings and fears. I do not wish to offend anyone or misjudge their experience. I pray that any parents of special children who read this will see my heart and maybe offer their experiences to me. But please, please do not judge me as uncaring or heartless or chicken, rather see my heart where it is. As a woman struggling with faith and reality who thinks WAY TOO much!

Monday, July 13, 2009

I Need to Stop Shopping Anyway

What does it say about a person when they begin to wear only neutrals - in place of all the color that same person wore and wore well?
Is it a mood change? A sign of getting older? Am I becoming bland?

Suddenly everything in my closet is black, white, brown and grey. I am really attracted to grey right now. I do think grey is this year's black. It's cool, sharp and dramatic without washing out your complexion (when you are pale like me). And brown? Well, brown is just so rich and warm I can't resist it.
Then there's black and white. They're neutral and safe.

When did I start playing safe?

When my nieces once asked me my favorite color, I couldn't pick one. I like them all. All except pink.
I love to wear orange. I used to love to wear red - because it makes my eyes look even more blue. And needless to say, blue looks great on me.
I stopped wearing red over the past year or so. (Maybe because Mr. Burns doesn't like red?)

When I went shopping this weekend to buy a few tops to go with some bottoms that I ordered recently... I was mad at myself when I left the mall with two white tops, one black one and one grey!!
I did get one blue one. But I don't like it, I think I'll take it back. For some reason this shade of blue looks cheap to me.

And. Did I need the tops? Not really. Except for my endless quest to find shirts that stop somewhere around my waist!
Why is it that all the shirts now days are so long... you couldn't tuck them in if you wanted to? What is up with that? To wear them untucked... I have to bunch them up around my waist... making my tummy pooch look even bigger. Whose idea is this?

You know what I think about that? I think the long shirts are for people with hips. The shirts just skim over their hips and look all flattering. But when you are a stick figure like me, with no bosom and no hips... it just looks like you're wearing a tent. Not flattering. I'm tempted to start cutting all these shirts off and re-hemming them!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

I'll Be Your...

My friend and I got tickets to a movie premiere screening last night. A romantic comedy. Fairly predictable. Guess how it ends...

As we left the theatre, on the down escalator... my friend sighed and said, "I'm going to die alone."
I understand just how she feels. I turned to her and said, "No you won't. You'll have me - at least."

"No." she protested, "You'll marry Mr. Burns and I'll live in your back yard and be your old maid."

"Is that mandatory now? Are we assigning old maids to couples?"

You know. It's not a bad idea. Everybody needs somebody!!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Mega, Super, Huge - What's Wrong with Being Small?

Seems like my 'bulk' supplies tend to run out around the same time around here.
The laundry detergent, the stash of bathroom tissue - that sort of thing.

So at the grocery store yesterday, I scanned the aisle with my favorite detergent to see if it was on sale. Because I live in a small condo, I buy the smaller bottle so that it fits in the little lockers we have in the community laundry room. It's nice to not have to lug it up and down three flights of stairs or take up precious space in my home.

Back to the price, it was impressively low. But upon reading the fine print, it indicated that the low price was offered only if I bought three bottles.

I instantly thought, "Where am I going to put three bottles of detergent during the 5 months it takes me to go through each bottle?!"

Sometimes I do buy the two for one... so maybe I could fit all three of them in the little locker but then there wouldn't be room for the other bottle of detergent for fine washables and dark colors.
Seriously, if I had that much room for detergent, I'd buy the big bottle and use one plastic jug instead of three. Wait a minute! Why are they encouraging people to buy three small bottles instead of one big jug!

Ack! I just left the laundry aisle... bemoaning our wasteful society.

Then I spotted my favorite brand of bath tissue. I could choose either 12 double rolls or 6 mega rolls. Yeesh.
I live in an old, charming, vintage building - my TP holder can't hold a mega roll, it wouldn't be able to turn over.

Why can't it just be normal sized? I hate that I could save money buying the 24 roll package. Where am I supposed to store that?!

I move down the next aisle and eventually make my way to checkout.

As I'm moving my produce purchases to the check stand, I make a little chitchat with the man checking out in front of me.
I place my mushrooms -for salad- on the conveyor and the man exclaims with disbelief, "What are you doing with just 2 mushrooms?!!!"
I am a bit startled but I look up to see him triumphantly, holding up a plastic wrapped container of white mushrooms.

I reached for my pat answer, which I have borrowed from Piglet, wise little critter that he is...
"Well, I'm a Very Small Animal. I only buy food I can eat before it goes bad."

The unspoken addition to that answer is - hey, I'm being optimistic that I'm even going to try to make salad - odds are it's all going to go bad before I eat it!!
And I think, "Why are you judging my food purchases?"

I realize, the stranger wants me to buy in bulk.

Whatever happened to just having what you need?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

If You Really Listen - Sometimes You Get the Message

Sometimes in Mass on Sundays - I miss everything. I can be reading along with the Gospel and miss the whole thing.

Other times - I hear but I don't take anything away from the message.

In these moments, I feel that maybe I'm just not holy enough. Or not trying hard enough. If I were more prayerful, if I trusted God more... maybe He would speak to me. Maybe I could be uplifted. I just must not be trying hard enough.

But sometimes, God hits me right between the eyes.

Our Gospel reading this Sunday was from Mark 5:21-43. A story I am familiar with... but this time I learned something new.

There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.
She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors
and had spent all that she had.
Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.
She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd
and touched his cloak.
She said, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured."
Immediately her flow of blood dried up.
She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him,
turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who has touched my clothes?"
But his disciples said to Jesus,
"You see how the crowd is pressing upon you,
and yet you ask, 'Who touched me?'"
And he looked around to see who had done it.
The woman, realizing what had happened to her,
approached in fear and trembling.
She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.
He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you.
Go in peace and be cured of your affliction."
Who touched me?
Are you serious? This huge crowd has been jostling you the whole way and now you want to know who touched you?!
But the Lord felt His healing power leave His body. She only touched His cloak.

Jesus doesn't ask me to be perfect. Not even perfect in prayer. He only asks that I reach out to Him. To reach out to Him, confident that He will help me.

That's an area I struggle with. Sometimes I come to Jesus in prayer with a flawed mindset. "Lord, please heal my loneliness. Show me a good man who loves You. Someone I can love, marry and have children with. I mean, I know You're not going to give me a husband, I'm pretty sure you don't even want to... but I'm asking anyway."

That is no way to reach out for His cloak! No! When we reach out to just touch his cloak... reaching out in faith, even among all the other people in the world... He knows it. He feels it!

I had to blink back tears with this realization!
I had to tell a friend! My friend MIME listened to my news and reminded me... what about the other part of the story? The part that sent Jesus walking through town at the request of the synagogue officials, Jairus whose daughter was near death. Jairus asked Jesus to come touch her and heal her.

While he was still speaking,
people from the synagogue official's house arrived and said,
"Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?"
Disregarding the message that was reported,
Jesus said to the synagogue official,
"Do not be afraid; just have faith."
He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside
except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.
When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official,
he caught sight of a commotion,
people weeping and wailing loudly.
So he went in and said to them,
"Why this commotion and weeping?
The child is not dead but asleep." And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out.
He took along the child's father and mother
and those who were with him
and entered the room where the child was.
He took the child by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum,"
which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!"
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.
At that they were utterly astounded.
He gave strict orders that no one should know this
and said that she should be given something to eat.
MIME reminded me, when these people doubted that anything could be done - Jesus put them out.
You don't have faith? Get away from me!

This is our God. He doesn't ask us to be perfect. He asks us to believe. To have faith. Even a little bit of faith. Like a mustard seed. Just this little bit of faith - He knows. He knows your need. He knows your faith. He feels it. It matters. He cares.

If we ask or expect without faith - forget it.
Fair enough if you ask me.
I need to line up my thinking and remember that my God wants the best for me. He longs for me to have the desires of my heart. If I only have FAITH.

Scripture copied from: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops - New American Bible

Monday, June 22, 2009

On My iPod - the Rosary; Here's Why

At the start of 2007 I was determined to meet my husband. I wouldn't say I was desperate - I was just DONE being alone, and it was time to meet him.

I put out the call for all my friends to introduce me to someone that year - and I began praying the Rosary every night. I bought a CD of the Rosary, and a beautifully illustrated book of the mysteries of the Rosary to help me remember just how it went.

By the end of February I had met Mr. Burns. (the third guy I was introduced to)

Instantly, I knew I liked him. He was so many of the things I was looking for in a man - and so many more I didn't know I needed/wanted.

He couldn't believe I was real.
We became inseparable.
I was sure we'd be engaged by the end of the year.

You know much of the rest.
At some point, things got harder than hard. After 18 months together - he seemed stuck. Mired in some place that kept him from deepening our relationship. I still knew there was something really good there - but after keeping this thing afloat all by myself for so long, I needed a breather.
It was like our relationship was in this boat full of holes and the only way to keep it afloat was for me to hold it up from underwater. He gave me enough help to come up for air once in a while, but mostly, I was exhausted.

And I got out of the habit of praying the Rosary once I had what I wanted... and couldn't get back into it now that I needed assistance again.

Looking back now, we realize that our relationship went off the rails when his dad died unexpectedly. We had been dating for 5 months and everything was moving along just as you would expect - until Mr. Burns was hit with grief.

Hindsight has taught us that he was mired in that grief for longer than either of us realized.

In addition to that, I lost my job two months later. I found part-time work, but I had way too much free time.
He no longer saw the driven, successful, creative woman that I normally am - during the majority of our time together.

That's a lot of stress to put on a young relationship.
But now we know that we can get through some really ugly stuff.
It took us breaking up to have the distance required to learn this.

So, as you know - we've been spending time together again.

But, once when it was Mr. Burns who just didn't know where our relationship was going - now it's me.
I used to know for sure that we were meant to be together - and I was frustrated that he was so confused.

Now, he knows what he wants and I'm the one confused.

We went out for dinner Saturday evening, and as we walked, our pinkies entwined like we used to on long walks or when hiking. (it's too hot and too much to hold hands when you're trying to exercise, so we would just link pinkies instead - to be connected.)
Suddenly I was uncomfortable. It seemed too intimate, considering the confusion between my head and my heart. I released his pinky.

We found a photo booth - I can never pass those up - and ducked inside for a silly photo-session. So overwhelmed with affection is he... he couldn't help but nuzzle on me. I was uncomfortable again.

I attribute this in part to the time I spent really working on disconnecting from him. I still think he's the right guy for me, but in the break-up - some vital cords were severed. They need to be reestablished before we can move forward.

Or, do I just not know whether this is right or not?


Mr. Burns surprised me with two thoughtful gifts for my birthday... one at the beginning of the week to kick things off - and another on Saturday to end the week-long celebration on a high note.

He loved the look on my face when I opened the iP0d Shuffle. It was extreme shock and surprise!
He helped me set up my i+une$ account.
The first thing we loaded on my Shuffle was the Rosary.

Finally, last night, I realized that I can't do this on my own. I need to get back to the Rosary and let the prayer lead me to the answers.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dealing With a Pain

My boss called me a little bit ago. Yeah, around 9:00pm. Would you be worried?
He called to ask me to document the behavior of another employee. Yikes.

This will feel a little strange, considering I'm the newest hire. The person I'm documenting has been there for about 7 years.
I want to be careful and fair, because I tend to write these sort of incidents in a matter-of-fact, dispassionate, emotionless sort of way. Which seems to be the right thing to do - but usually comes across as harsh rather than the neutral message I intend.

Here's what happened. My job is to prepare the material for a weekly 'event'. Then it gets handed off to another part of the team. Typically, the same person sees it through to the final product - but today it was handed off to yet another person. This person is difficult at best. We'll call this person Bozo.

As Bozo completed the first phase of the project - it was time for me to weigh in with any changes or adjustments. Bozo told me that part of the material was changed. That the first part of the team made this change. This was a change that, with the resources at hand, I could not accommodate. I'm great at troubleshooting - but this one had the deck stacked against it.

The really strange part, is the first part of the team would NEVER make a change like this without checking with me first. This was very concerning.
Bozo says no... "They do this all the time."
No - they've never done this to me before. It doesn't make any sense.

Then I ask Bozo to show me the change in question - Bozo makes a veiled effort, but then stops and offers another explanation - in an effort to distract me - which is Bozo's preferred Modus Operandi. I ask again, and Bozo instead offers two suggestions to cover the material - both of which will not work. I never did get to see the problem in question.
I chose not to press the issue since I was dealing with Bozo after all.
I called my boss and explained part of the problem and asked for a suggestion. He couldn't help.
Finally, I determined a suitable fix and left for the day.

Forgot about it.
Until my boss called. He spoke with the first part of the team who confirmed that they did not make the change. This in turn confirmed that Bozo made the change. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.
Did Bozo make the change just to watch me struggle with an unsolvable problem for no reason? Is this something Bozo would then take pleasure in... watching me spin around trying solve the unsolvable?

Doesn't matter. My boss is ticked. Bozo pulls this stuff all the time. Especially on people like me, my job title, my gender. Mmmm hmmm.
My boss is totally on my side. Which is great. But it also makes me feel bad, because it's something that shouldn't be a big deal. Something I can handle - but shouldn't have to. I could have pushed Bozo to show me the change - (the change that wasn't really there after all you see) but I didn't because I felt pushing the issue on something of this level would be foolish, and just cause more trouble.

And that, my boss pointed out - is the rub. Shouldn't have to. It doesn't have to be this way and the only way we can make it stop is follow the bureaucracy, document it and maybe in 2-3 years we don't have to put up with Bozo any more. Furthermore, if I had been dealing the other person on the team - and asked to see this problematic change - boom - I would have seen it in two seconds flat. The fact of the matter, the problem Bozo was presenting wasn't there. Bozo was just causing trouble.

Sheesh. This is ridiculous!!
Any suggestions for me so that I don't come off sounding like the whiner in this situation?

sorry if this is boring - I just needed to get it off my chest before I write up the real thing. Thanks for letting me vent.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Just a Scrunchie

Remember that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie has just started dating Jack Burger? We see that she's just finished reading his newly published book - she's thrilled that he is a fantastic writer - she can love the man because she loves his work.

When he asks her what she thinks of it she gushes enthusiastically - then launches into a rant about the detail in the book that has his main character running all over Manhattan wearing a Scrunchie in her hair. How no self-respecting Manhattan-ite/Fashionista would be caught dead wearing a Scrunchie anywhere other than her bathroom, washing her face before bed!

As if he can go back and take that out of the book. Yikes. You know she's gone too far. The rant was supposed to be lighthearted and funny and instead it turns into a big - ugly deal.

I remember talking to a friend after seeing that episode for the first time - saying, "Wouldn't it be nice if you could erase those mountains made from molehills by simply saying... 'Hey, it's just a Scrunchie... never mind, it's nothing'."

I realized then that the sort of man who would be the right fit for me, would be the guy who understands when I'm just ranting and know that it's nothing. Just a rant. Dismiss it. Never mind.

I came across an ad the other day that had the word Scrunchie in it - and I was reminded of that little epiphany made years ago.

Then I realized, I found that guy. With whom I share that little pact.

When we first started dating, Mr. Burns he told me about some cartoon he saw that involved a misunderstanding between space aliens and some cows.
The dialogue was subtitled, because much of the conversation was in cow. You know, 'Moo'.

At the resolution of the saga, when all the misunderstandings but one were cleared up, the aliens asked for one more clarification.

"Oh, that was Phil's fault." one cow says to the aliens.
The scene reveals Phil the Cow (steer?) lifting his hand/hoof in an apologetic manner as he says, "Moo. Moo, moo."

Mr. Burns found this hilarious. "Moo. Moo, moo." meant, "Sorry. My bad." or "Yeah. Can we forget it?"

When we would get into little rants and rows he would stop and say, "Moo. Moo, moo."
We'd both crack up. It'd break the ice and we could get back to the business at hand.
Before long we were both doing it. We made up different inflections, a single moo. A drawn out moooo. Or a short, quick Moo. To make a point. It became our own language.

One night at a party, Mr. Burns was relating some story to some new friends. At the end of his story, he defaulted to shorthand and said, "Moo. Moo, moo."
Luckily, our new friends had been pulled into a different conversation and didn't notice. After I finished laughing I pulled close to him and whispered, "Honey. They don't speak Moo."

This was our shorthand. A silly way to communicate.
And just this week, I realized - that was a quality I wanted all along. Someone who knows when a Scrunchie is just a Scrunchie. A cigar is just a cigar.
Move on - don't sweat the small stuff.


Mr. Burns and I have been spending time together again lately, and he often effuses about the Power of Moo.
Sure. Some people might see it as avoidance. He sees it as a representation of our ability to communicate. How we relate to one another.
We were always careful not to abuse the Moo. "No. This isn't a Moo. This is serious." then we get down to business. We understand what's worth spending time discussing - and what we shouldn't waste our time on.

It's just... you know... Moo.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Well, How About That?

I have been looking for a skirt - or skirts - for months now. Ever since thoughts of spring popped into my head around February.

And I mean, I looked everywhere! TJMaxx. Ross. As in, every TJ's and Ross in the city and surrounding suburbs. Koh!s. Nordstrom Rack. Neiman's Last Call. The G^p. Goodw!ll.

Everywhere I wouldn't have to pay full price and some places I might. Haven't found even one. Well to be fair... not one that wasn't completely out of my price range.


So 20 minutes in Target - I found 6 skirts to try on. Bought two of them. $9.99 and $14.99. How about that?! Target is so great - they always know what we want before the rest of the world catches on!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A Penny Saved

Never seems to go very far!

I met two of my guy friends for drinks last week. It was Paul's birthday and we got together to watch one of the Nuggets-Lakers games.
These guys treat their cell phones like appendages! Constantly checking, texting, tinkering.

At one point I pulled my phone out of my bag to see if there were any messages. Paul caught sight of it and said, "Whoa. That phone is old-school!"
I'm a little behind the curve on technology. I do need to upgrade my phone soon and plan to get a B!ackberry with a data plan. For now this 4.5 year old phone will do.
I've never understood the need to have the lastest and greatest at all times.

Then, in a conversation with someone new the other day (okay - it was a date) it came up that I don't have an iPod.
What? How do you not have an iPod?

Short answer, it's never been a priority.
Dig a little deeper and priority is the key word.

I told my date, "You know, I'm the sort of person who is always saving up for something that I never get to buy."
I don't know if anyone else has ever heard of this 'sort' of person.

I've been saving up for my dream sofa for almost 3 years now.
I spent $500 on my night guard instead. I figure it's more important that I have teeth when I'm 60 than that I have a gorgeous new couch right this minute.
4 years ago I splurged on a Digital SLR camera. Actually, that's one time I had the money saved and then it took me 9 months to commit to spending it!!!

I'm accustomed to any of my slush funds being repurposed for something I seriously don't want. Like tires. Or replacing the manifold gasket for the second time in 12 months. (That's a $400 procedure surrounding a $30 part - BTW) Replacing the pipes under my bathtub. ($1000) Or that incredibly sexy night guard.

An iPod? You know, they still play music on the radio for free right? So not a priority.

That new cell phone is next on my list... after I pay for the damage my leaking radiator did to my downstairs neighbor's ceiling.
And maybe one day... teeth whitening!!! Oh what a glorious day that will be!