Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

One Day You're In, The Next You're Out

This is what Heidi Klum says on every episode of one of my favorite shows, Project Runway. These words, and the episode I watched, had a bizarre parallel with news that one of my co-workers was killed in a senseless accident.

One day you're in, the next you're out.

He was only 28 years old.

And I found it slightly ridiculous to watch this show and see the designers cry for the loss of their 'teammate'. The loss simply that he was eliminated. 'He's still alive though. He just left the show' I thought to myself, silently mourning for a man I barely knew.

Eddie Ogburn was a young kid when I met him. I mean, he's still young, but I believe he was a college student while we played wallyball. It was usually with our good friend Sterling. He was cute, sweet, and competitive. I liked that.

I didn't see him for awhile...he didn't play wallyball anymore...at least not with me. But when I did see him, we gave awkward nods or hellos, like 'hey, i know you but it's been awhile and i'm not sure if you remember me.'

Coincidentally, we got in touch two weeks ago, when he delivered my work laptop to me. It was still awkward but we both joked with each other in that 'yeah, we do remember each other' kind of way.

I then read on facebook, from two of my friends' status updates, that Eddie had passed away. I didn't know who they were talking about and I didn't want to ask "what happened?" A bizarre curiosity... And then I saw a picture of him on one of the news articles and then I felt sick because it was this young KID that I barely knew. And I'm sorry, but when a death happens that is remotely connected to me, it feels a little more tender and I start to think more and more about what his family is going through...his friends...did he suffer?

And when you read the article, it just gets worse. A block from his house. He's actually turning into his neighborhood! When an asshole nails him at 80 mph.

The focus will be that the asshole was drunk. Yes, that in itself is bad. But the dude was passing on the left (i.e. the _other_ lane) and doing 80 mph. This is what happens to you assholes that speed and break the law because you think you're better than anyone else. The drinking was just the 'icing on the cake'. I guaradamn-tee you that this dude has done 80 mph before...

Eddie, I didn't know you as well as your friends and family, but I did know you and your death has affected me. Too young to die is at any age, IMO, but surely this was not meant for you, at 28.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Beauty of Out and Back

I had a nine mile long run scheduled for today.

Tim had an adventure race scheduled for the same day.

His started in the morning. Mine would start when he was back home. That didn't happen until 2:30ish. I quickly gave him kudos for winning his race in the coed division and rushed off to Umstead to get my workout in.

I did my best to focus and visualize my route. I had decided that I would listen to tunes vs. my favorite podcast and add my playing list to my (this) blog post. When I got ready to go, my iPod would not reset for me to play anything. When I finally got it ready to go (after 10 minutes of pushing every sequence of buttons on the six button max device), it died. I threw the POS into the car thinking "what the fudge am I going to do for 9 miles?????"

I figured that I did this -- run without the iPod -- during my races, even the long ones, so surely I could do it today.

And I did.

All I could hear was the crunch of my running shoe hitting the gravel-like path of Umstead's bridle path. Eventually, I could hear my breathing - hard and patterned well - along with my 2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, counting that I like to do while I run (and walk, and climb stairs).

I was befuddled at how the heck I was going to do this run but I knew it would be done. Once I started, I knew I would be out for 4.5 miles and there's no other way to get back than to run/walk it back.

Fortunately, my brain and my body cooperated with my intention and I managed to run 98 percent of it. I took two walk breaks that last roughly 2.46 minutes (I guess that's not roughly, huh?) each. The first was after turning around at my halfway point and almost completing the "S" hill. I made the mistake of looking up and seeing the end still go up and I decided to walk it while I downed my water.

The second came at the water fountain, with two miles left to go, where I could refill my bottles *and* splash water all over me to cool me down. This was the best thing I could have done for myself because I ended up "racing" to the end. This is easy to do as the end requires going sort of downhill and it's one of my favorite places to go fast, so the finish was my runner's high with a self-appreciation for persevering and getting the workout in...determination.

Umstead at this time of the day was pretty deserted. Sporadic bikers passed me throughout my run. I could hear them (since I didn't have my iPod) and a couple of times wondered if the biker was going to attack me, but this time, I was safe.

The best part of the run was running the Reedy Creek Trail, after passing the turn to the spillway, and going up that part and passing three young dudes on bikes. When I passed the first guy, I was thinking how cool this was, passing a bike running. Then I passed the second and third guy (granted, one was a tandem bike with a kid, so technically, I passed FOUR guys). I was psyched and upped my pace, going UP. But I reached my halfway point and turned around to finish up my run. THANK GOODNESS BECAUSE THAT WAS HARD.

I knew I'd get this one in. I just didn't realize how much easier it was than I thought. And when I say 'easier', I mean it hurt like hell.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Not A PTA Mom...

I think working on the PTA would be torture. And I actually was co-president of the PTA during CJ's Kindergarten year, which was the first year of her Charter school being in 'business'. It wasn't bad but it wasn't great.

It wasn't bad because it wasn't fully organized. With the schools we are a part of now, I am sure they are fully ripe and I want nothing to do with it.

I am simply not of sound mind and body to be the Jude Cleaver type mom. And my kids know it. And lord knows Tim knows it too.

Tim is the contact for most things related to the kids and school. Yesterday, a mom called Tim to find out if *we* were interested in having CJ carpool with her daughter. Tim contacted (voicemail) her later in the day to say *we* were interested. And last night, she returned the call and discussed the details of what would take place in the next few days.

I sat there listening thinking: typically, this would be a mom job, right? Talking to other moms and ironing out the details of carpools and other extracurricular stuff. But I was sooooo happy to not be on the other end of that phone. Thankful that I have a husband who can do the job that I want nothing to do with.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest

I don't know know how I picked this one out but it may have something to do with the fact that I am following the author, Cherie Priest, on twitter. What came first? The book, then follow the author? Or follow the author, find the book? Regardless, the book was quite delicious to read and I found another author who I will seek out novels from.

The beginning of this novel is the most tantalizing of all and although I enjoyed the book, the direction I "sensed" this would go - based on the first few chapters - is one that I was really excited about.

Eden Moore is the title character. We learn about Eden's ability to see ghosts while she is in Kindergarten. This is when I was soooo excited. Reading from a kindergartner's perspective, who is genius in the way she views the world. I thought this would be such a unique way to look at the world: a brilliant, "I see dead people" voice behind innocent, young big brown eyes. But this lasts only a chapter or two.

Then Eden grows up and one of the most frightful parts of the book is when she meets Cora at a summer camp in the mountains. Cora shares Eden's unique ability at seeing ghosts but when Cora senses these specters, she recites a 'chant' to ease her fear:

Sing a song of breath mints
Banana cream pie
Four and twenty blackbirds take to the sky
When the sky is filled up
With all the feathered wings
The birds will come protect me
For all those other things


I think it's creepy and the chapter is one of the best chapters of creepiness that I have read in a very long time. It was so good that I had to read it to my girls to creep them out with me.

The storyline adjusts a bit to Eden's genealogy and for me, I lost the buzz I got from the earlier chapters but Cherie Priest's writing is so fluid and titillating that I enjoyed it anyway. Eden Moore is an awesome character, along with Harry, the undercover priest, Eliza, a really bad grandmother, and Malachi, her coo-coo brother-cousin.

I noticed that this is the first of a trilogy with Eden Moore so I have two more to add to my list of books to read. And BTW, is Cherie Priest not one cool name???!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Me Worry?!?

Tomorrow starts the new school year. Last year, Mi-Mi was starting Kindergarten, or "big girl" school. I worried how she might do but she went in excited and nearly every day of the school year, was excited about going back. Imagine that?

This year it's time for CJ to go to "really big girl" school. She's starting middle school and I am so worried about her!

She's taking it in stride. She seems very calm and mildly excited every time I ask her a question about it.

But I need to stop. The more I ask, the more worried I get that I'm going to start worrying her.

We've visited the school. We walked around to her classes. We have been assured by every teacher that the first few days, the sixth graders will be 'escorted' to their classes. CJ will only need to have this happen for two classes, which are her electives. The core classes are all right next to each other, like a quad.

I'm concerned about her first day and finding her way to the gym, which is where all the students (6th through 8th grade) converge to before the bell rings for the start of the day. I know that there will be people escorting the 6th graders to their homerooms but I still can't stop thinking about CJ becoming overwhelmed; feeling lost; alone.

Unlike schools that I grew up with, she will not be going with all of her classmates from her elementary school. A few kids will be attending, one being one of her BFFs, but every time I ask about BFFs classes, I get drama from CJ. So I stop asking. Which makes me worry more that she won't have a friend on the first day to keep her at ease.

I relayed my own childhood horrors of starting new schools. In my case, it was not only a new school but a new city. Sometimes a new country.

I moved during my second grade year from Myrtle Beach AFB to Clark AFB in the Philippines, where my mother and her family are from. I remember one memory as being the first day of school and having to line up outside of class. One girl, who from my memory, was not someone I had good vibes from, stood right behind me. I felt something happen to the back of my shoulder and I noticed the douche bag put a BOOGER ON ME! WTF? Only I was probably thinking some other words at the time...but my knee jerk reaction was very similar "EWWWW! GET THIS BOOGER OFF ME! WHY DID YOU DO THAT?" In hindsight, it was a great knee jerk reaction because the girl never messed with me again. I don't recall if she was being a bully (my memory senses that she was picking on the new girl...pun intended) but my reaction was enough to scare her away from me.

Second grade is not so bad. But moving during my seventh grade year was tough.

I left the Philippines during the school year. I remember having to say goodbye to my friends, and my first puppy love Randy. And not only saying goodbye to my friends, but leaving the family that I love so dearly behind and not knowing when I would ever have the chance to see them again. And the worst of it all? Leaving my two beloved dogs behind. I would NEVER see them again.

I started seventh grade - IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SCHOOL YEAR - in Homestead, Florida. I would come to find that living as a military child stateside is nothing like overseas. There are 'civilians' that go to the schools and have no sense of a military life. I was able to find a few kids who came from the same base, but the agony of finding out who can be your friend was hard.

The school was somewhere in the middle of canals after canals. It was a long bus ride to the school and then given my schedule and a "have at it". No one to escort me to my classes...it just begs for a scared middle schooler to humiliate herself and ask for help.

I pulled through but my memories of that middle school are not good. I was not happy and I just seem to glide through that period with little thought to recall any memory of it.

After ninth grade, I left Homestead, Florida for the U.S. territory of Guam. One aspect of being a military brat is that we inadvertently learn geography. Places like Kadena, Seoul, Guam, Clark, Elmendorf, we tend to know where these are located. When I spoke to my non-civilian classmates about where I was moving to, I received a lot of questions back, like "what state is that in?", "what is guam? A city?", etc. I remember being floored by their ignorance.

So I made it to Guam and started high school with a bunch of others. I met very few people before I started school so I had no one to really rely on. I was going in fresh. I somehow met a group of Filipino girls who warned me about Chamorros (native Guamanians). They didn't like howlies and they didn't like Filipinos. Um...but I am both!!! "Just look straight down. Don't look at anyone. Or they will confront you." Gee. This is what I have too look forward to?

I remember meeting up with those girls before my first day of school. I was nervous, but relatively OK. Until I threw up. Yes. I threw up, in front of God and everyone who paid any attention to me, off to the grassy area, in the waiting area where all the kids stand around before the bell rings.

I moved one more time after that...started my senior year at a brand new school in another 'country'...back to the US of A and finishing up my year at Gosnell Senior High School in Arkansas. This time, it wasn't so bad - if you call starting your senior year with new friends and a new school NOT SO BAD - as I knew a trio of sisters who lived on Guam with me and moved to Gosnell the year before. I had allies and they became my BFFs throughout my senior year.

But, as you may sense, I have my reasons for worrying about CJ. She doesn't have all of the same issues that I had but I can't help relate my stressful traumas with what she might go through. If I could, I would walk her to her classes myself but that, in itself, would not be the thing to do...even if she wanted that...she couldn't because it just wouldn't "look" right.

But if she asked, I would do it and would stare down anyone who thought it was weird.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Theme I've Been Waiting for All My Life!

This is a quote from A Christmas Story, one of my all-time favorite movies.

It's the scene where Ralphie imagines how his teacher will react to his paper on what he wants for Christmas. He starts writing and he just thinks he's writing the Iliad, one of the greatest stories ever told. And that his teacher will be so moved by his language of love that he will get his wish...

Well, that's how I feel today. I thought: wow. That is one heck of a masterpiece.

What is this masterpiece you may wonder? It was a paragraph of exactly 100 words, describing why I want to be included in a local paper's reader panel. Presumably, the chosen panelist would have an opportunity to try new foods and then write about it.

So I wrote out something. Did a word count. Got 170 words. Then worked from there. And I managed to cut it down to 100 words. Thank goodness for twitter, although that's just 140 characters, but I'm used to writing something out then trying to shorten it. However, at least as a plea for being included in a panel for a newspaper, I couldn't substitute "2" for "to", or "4" for "for", etc.

And when I sent it off, I thought "they will be moved by this that they will have to ask me right away and not evaluate the 100 others that seek the same position". And when I thought that, I thought of Ralphie, and how silly we both were to think so highly of ourselves.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen

I picked this book up because I didn't have the book I 'ordered' from the library. This was one that CJ was interested in. Since she wasn't reading it...

It's a teenaged novel about, mainly one girl, Halley, who rushes back from an undesirable summer camp (in the mountains) to be with her best friend Scarlett, who's boyfriend (and new relationship) was killed in a motorcycle accident.

From there, we learn more about Halley and the relationships she has with her mom and with Scarlett.

It's pretty profound, in one sense, a book about a thinking teenager who recognizes changes within the relationship she has with her mom, as well as analyzes decisions that have to be made. She's supportive of her friend Scarlett, who ends up becoming pregnant from her first intimate time with the deceased boyfriend, even with protection.

The things I did like: seeing the teenaged point of view of a best friend. This is the most important person in her life and unfortunately, parents are second best. It is a critical relationship and minimizing it is pretty cruel.

Also, forming a crush, then relationship, with the 'wrong' boy. Reading the emotions that Halley has for the guy who skips class, parties all the time, but is showing affection only for her is pretty tantalizing. I absolutely can relate to that and it's probably most teenage girls' dream: to be the apple of someone's eye, even if they're the bad ones.

But having a parent who will not accept that boy is also very demoralizing. I went through it with my parents. The truth is: you can't stop them from liking (LOVING) the wrong person. And trying to control that interaction cannot happen without a lot of destruction. I could definitely empathize with the parents and I have no idea what I will do if I have to go through this with my girls.

But what I didn't like about the book is, it becomes a little preachy. Having sex WITH protection CAN make you pregnant. Yes. We know that. I knew that when I was a teenager. But it just seemed so health class textbook in the plot of the novel. And then, very unrealistically, Scarlett has a comical pregnancy, with support from everyone...well, her mom comes around...but mom is also not really a 'mom' for her.

Halley goes through her own dilemma of whether she becomes intimate with her man. And we see the bad boy through Halley's eyes, which I didn't particularly like (I know, it's about her) but he is transformed from a boy who cares to a boy who just parties and wants sex. And again, on the preachy side.

The novel ends on an almost happy note. Scarlett has a healthy baby; Halley dumps her man...ON HER OWN VOLITION; and she and her mom get through their own hurdles within their relationship. Just too hollywood for me.

One thing I felt, while reading the book, was the area felt really familiar. I probably made it all up in my head, but the street names, or areas around, seemed very Raleigh-centric to me. I looked on the back cover and found that Sarah Dessen lives in Chapel Hill, which I thought was tres cool.

Tennis (elbow) Anyone?

Approximately three weeks ago, I spent, AT THE MOST, 20 minutes snipping bamboo shoots off a bamboo spear. Well, several bamboo spears.

I decided to create my own 'teepee' to hold up plants in my vegetable gardens. We have bamboo in the yard that Tim had chopped down even weeks before, so all I needed to do was 'shave' the twigs off the main branch.

But they're pretty hard so instead, I used those big pruning shears to snip them off.

And I didn't last long because the mosquitoes were just eating me up alive. So I did what I could, which had to have been less than 25 minutes.

And that was that.

The next day, I could not bend at the elbow on my right side. This continued for WEEKS. I can't use that one arm to pick up a toothpick without feeling pain in the elbow.

And still, to this very second that I write this, it is still sore. Depending on how I am positioned, I still cannot pick lightweight objects.

It's dumbfounding to me, that a few minutes of my day has caused me such discomfort *for this long*.

Just another pain to add to the list: the arches in my feet, the right side of my hoo-haw area (while I run)...what's next?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Scrapping in this Day and Age

Last night, my girls, sitting side-by-side on a loveseat, decided to squabble with one another. All we could hear was giggling...and the phone beeping.

Why's that, you ask? Because they squabbled via text messaging. CJ using her phone; Mi-Mi using my phone. And since it's my phone, I now have the dialogue between the two of them.

MM: Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiiii
CJ: You stink like poop
MM: You are like a Mi-Mi who farted
CJ: U r like a duck who farted
MM: You are so yum yum
CJ: U R SO UCK UCK!
MM: You are a farty fart fart!
CJ: Kenedy and mi-mi making out (icon of heart and lips)
***LOL!***
MM: Kennedy and CJ sexing!!!
CJ: That makes no sence
***LOL!***
MM: Bobby and CJ makeing out and sexing
MM: You are a poopy head poop poop!!!!!!!!! o and your hot and sexy
MM: Bobby mi-mi kennedy and CJ makeing out and sexing with cj!!!!!!!!
MM: WONT YOU JUST TEXT ME BACK!!!!
MM: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
MM: YOU ARE A BIG FAT KENNEDY HEAD!!!!!!!!

So it was a bit jarring to see what mi-mi was writing (sexing? what the heck is that?) but I'm pretty certain she has no idea what she's saying. But the part I think is pretty cool is that Mi-Mi CAPITALIZED when she wanted to yell! How does one KNOW to do that? I didn't teach her that. It just came natural.

From the Mouths of Babes

I wish I could remember everything my kids say that is just brilliant and/or brilliantly funny. Today, I was able to remember much of the talk.

On the way home from work today, Mi-Mi said "The "c" word is the worst of all bad words".

Uh-oh, I think to myself. When did she hear that one? I haven't used that word lately and we didn't hear it in any recent movies.

After a few seconds, CJ turns to Mi-Mi and asks "what 'c' word?" Which is a dangerous question, don't you think? TELL ME THE WORD YOU SHOULDN'T SAY!

Instead, Mi-Mi spelled it out: C - R - A - P.

***

This morning, CJ became frustrated with Mi-Mi's descriptive chatter about something.

"UGH. You give too many details!! It's like 'This is what I'm going to do when I saw a tree. First, I'm going to take the leaves off. And the bark is brown. The leaves are green. And so is the grass'"

BTW, Tim (Mi-Mi's 'father') is the same freaking way. It's like he's teaching me the ABCs when he tells me some things...

***

Tim and I are balancing childcare. We have no babysitter. We have no summer camps. And school doesn't start until August 25th. So the girls end up going with me to work, and sitting in my office for about half a day, doodling, drawing, playing on the iPod. Or they are with Tim at a job site, sitting, in the hot sun, or sitting in his truck, or sitting in someone's house. Extremely boring.

So this evening, Tim asked me what my schedule was like tomorrow, so we could figure out who got the girls when. Before I could reply, Mi-Mi said:

The schedule for tomorrow is: playing on the computer, going to the pool, going to the playground, and then going to Wet-n-Wild.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Being Ironic

I like to be ironic most of the times but sometimes I can't.

Why? Because I think my irony will not "show through". It's too blurry for most people and instead, could be misinterpreted and then I misrepresent myself in a way that I don't want.

Make sense? I thought so.

So here are a few examples.

Several years ago, during the Bush vs. Kerry presidential election period, *I* received a 'letter' from President Bush. Enclosed was his political paraphernalia, including a photograph of he and Barbara Bush. He had that smug smile on his face and the picture just made me LAUGH. And all the while, I am thinking 'how on earth did I get this? I HATE BUSH." So I decided I would hang it in my office because looking at it just made me laugh.

But I didn't want people who didn't know my sense of humor to start thinking that I was for Bush. And even though I, for the most part, care very little what people think of me (I'm always telling my girls, after one calls the other a poo-poo head, if it's not true, what do you care if she calls you that?), it just crossed that comfort zone I have about misrepresenting myself to others. The humor was not all that important anymore. So, I took it down. But I still have the picture somewhere in this office and when I see it, it makes me laugh.

The other ironic thing is my 'Dolce & Gabbana" sunglasses. I hate name brands. I hate when people buy name brands because they do it thinking they are impressing someone (even themselves) and it so un-impresses me. And it may not matter to THEM what I think, which is fine, but this is MY BLOG so I can write how unimpressed I am with your Prada, Gucci, and whatever brand name is out there that I know nothing about because I'm fashion-ignorant.

But while on vacation, CJ and I were in a little shop of delight - where everything was half off and most items were $15 BEFORE the half off! - and there were a bunch of 'name brand' sunglasses.

Coincidentally, I had just read an article on sunglasses. The big lensed kind, like the Jackie-O days that are back in fashion, are really good for your overall eyes in terms of protection. And sitting in front of me, for $5 each, were a bunch of these bug-eyed sunglasses, most with brand names. I laughed when I saw the DG in big letters on the lens of one of the bug-eyed glasses so I purchased.

And while I like them, now I feel foolish with this designer logo on the lens. I'll wear them in the comfort of my car but I think twice before I grab my second pair of low-name brand sunglasses, because I just don't want that image of me to STRANGERS relayed incorrectly. I think it's funny for me to have DG sunglasses for $5. It's also a HA-HA-HA to the fools that will pay $100+ for these glasses all for a stupid brand name!

And lastly, one other item that I probably won't purchase that just makes me laugh. I'm looking for new bumper stickers to replace the faded ones off my car. I'm not sure I'm ready to part with "The Only Bush I Trust Is My Own" but it's time is due. I ran across one sticker that was just funny to me "I Found Jesus, He Was Behind the Couch!" But if I put it on, then it could relay a religious order to me vs. keep your religion to yourself. I just want to be funny, slightly ironic. But I'm not sure I'm comfortable with any jesus-freaks coming up to me and laughing ALONG with me.

Jesus Camp

This was a movie I was semi-interested in seeing, as opposed to not-at-all-wanting to see. But the kicker came in two ways:

1. Boston Globe named this as its #17th scariest movie
2. Netflix had this as a 'watch instantly' flick.

So we watched it Sunday afternoon.

Tim had to walk away near the end, while CJ and I finished.

For those who haven't seen it, it is a documentary about an extreme fundamentalist church that provides an extreme fundamentalist camp for children. To learn about Jesus. The way the fundamentalists want you to learn. So that you can carry down their extreme fundamentalist views to your friends, and your children.

The irony is that the pentacostal minister who formed and ran the camp, Becky Fischer, does some comparisons (intentionally or not) to 'muslims' who train their children to shoot and kill with guns. At least SHE's not doing THAT!

But they provide a political slant and worship Bush (movie came out in 2006), wanting prayer back in school, a Roe vs. Wade reversal, and all the typical things that extreme Christian fundamentals believe in.

I wasn't scared. I wasn't entirely baffled, despite the fact that my mouth dropped open several times throughout the film, or I got dizzy because I couldn't stop rolling my eyes.

It's insane. And yet, it's so believable. Not believable like 'I can't believe there are people that really think this way' but believable in that I know there are TONS of people that believe this way.

The things that these extremists believed that made me laugh -- and roll my eyes -- were:
* global warming is a fictional political issue; the temperature has only risen 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit (this was said by a a young boy to his affirming mother
* science hasn't proved anything (told to young boy by his affirming mother...who home-schools him)
* Harry Potter, and other warlocks like him, are enemies of God (um, BTW, if you didn't know this, Harry Potter is FICTIONAL)

These people do nothing for their religion except feed their own menial minds. Anyone else who doesn't believe this crap will most likely not be moved by their diatribe. It's just upsetting that they're out there, trying to ruin it for the rest of us who believe in freedom of choice, freedom of RELIGIOUS FAITH, freedom to love who they want to love, freedom from hypocrisy and ignorance.

These people just make my stereotype of religious folks stronger. And by stronger I mean NOT GOOD.

So for my atheist and agnostic friends out there (you know who you are), you want to stir the pot up in your household? Grab a bottle of wine, or two, sit back, and watch Jesus Camp.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

You're Great but You Suck

That's essentially what I 'said' on a recent survey for the Wake County Library systems.

I love the fact that this library is small and conveniently located near my house, plus on a major byway that I use nearly daily, so it's easy to stop and pick up or drop off my books.

But I hate the staff.

I love the Wake County online system. I can checkout books online and pick them up. I can use the self-serve checkout at my library so that I NEVER HAVE TO INTERACT with the staff, who are horrible.

In fact, the last time me and my girls checked out books, we utilized the self-service checkout. This was just about a week ago. And Mi-Mi noticed that one of the UPC codes (to scan for self-checkout) was missing. Hmmm...this reminds me of something I went through before. So I went to the desk to interact with yet another person (I often see, who is also not friendly, nor not rude, but on the brink of being rude, IMO).

me: Hi. The UPC code is missing from this book.
stoic-Library-Staff-Member: So it is. Guess you'll have to be on the honor system.

And that was it. Did I expect anything more? Not really. But that's why I cannot STAND to interact with these people.

Being a librarian falls into that category of: why does this job stress you out? Much like being a postal worker, what can possibly take place that makes (this) library staff so 'not nice'?

Please, people, don't think I am downplaying the position of postal workers or librarians. I am not being glib about these jobs. I truly believe there is a lot to it than meets the eye BUT WHAT ABOUT THESE JOBS MAKES IT THAT YOUR DAY IS RUINED BY DOING IT?

I've had some stressful jobs. Try being a bank teller and telling people you can't cash their $50 check because they don't have money in their account. Or trying to balance the cash/checks amount at the end of the day. Or asking for ID to even GET money out of their account? "What?! You don't KNOW WHO I AM???"

And yet, I was still able to do my job without pissing people off...for the most part.

But as a book lover, how on earth can being a librarian be that tough? Organizing books? LOVE IT. Checking them in? WOW! Checking them out? I get to see what books people are getting ready to read! How much more voyeuristic can that be? Forget reality TV, I am seeing it up close and personal!

Helping people find articles? I was a card catalog LOVER and now, I can use the internet.

So why must these bitties be so pissy?

I took the survey and overall, rated the library itself well. My overall experience was also highly rated, but in the notes, I made sure to comment that my experience is EXCELLENT if I don't have to deal with the staff. The fact that I can conveniently do anything without meeting with a real human being made for a pleasant user experience.

The next time I went to the library, which was this past Tuesday, the self-service checkout was unavailable. Is this because of my one survey? Highly unlikely. But if they are FORCING PATRONS to interact with the rude humans, they are sadly mistaken in IMPROVING any experience...unless, of course, they replace them.

Scary Movie Week

We have been on a scary movie trend this week. We started with Monday's free Redbox rental (which then cost me a whole dollar since I forgot to return the movie on Tuesday) The Haunting in Connecticut.

I got a good fright from that one - a great scarefest with lots of creepy stuff happening. I even eeked a scream out that everyone in the familia thought was funny. I also watched a lot through my fingers, which for some odd reason, makes me feel 'safe' when I watch these thrillers.

Friday we got to see The Abandoned. Another thriller that was a bit different in scariness from The Haunting in Connecticut, in that I still was scared but could watch more without my fingers keeping me safe. The girls thought it was hilarious - more of a comedy than scary. I don't know why. But in the end, it was hard to piece it all together to make it 'make sense'. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it because it was not a typical Hollywood scary movie (which usually aren't scary) and there were no big name actors to it and it was an indie-based-kind of scary movies that I like. The plot IS meant to be scary and unreal...

We ended the week with a surprise decision from Tim: CJ and I were going to watch The Orphan, while he and Mi-Mi would catch Aliens in the Attic.

The Orphan has been a source of contention between CJ and Tim for awhile. Sometime ago, CJ and Mi-Mi saw previews of this movie online and then when it finally started previews on TV because of its upcoming release, she was adamant that she was going to watch it.

However, Tim was adamant that she was NOT going to watch it. It was rated R and it was SCARY. And Tim did not want her to see something that may traumatize her, even though she thought she could handle it.

I'm a little more lenient. I mean, I won't let her watch The Blair Witch Project (which Tim doesn't thing is a problem) and we both won't let her see The Exorcist. But there are other scary flicks that I don't mind her watching. Some a little more bold, most likely, than other parents with 11 year olds.

But I was OK with The Orphan, especially because I knew she had been tracking this movie for a while and the idea that she wasn't _allowed_ to see it was probably a big frustration: I know what I want but I'm not old enough nor have the power to make it happen.

And if I even thought I would just take her and just act like it was no biggie? Well, that was put aside as soon as Tim looked me dead in the eye and said I. DON'T. WANT. HER. TO. SEE. THAT. MOVIE.

OK.

And I wasn't going to argue. He had his reason which were sound. And he is her father (at least that's what we tell him) and I respected his decision.

I tried to talk to CJ about negotiating with him: talk to him. Ask him why he doesn't want you to see it. Tell him why you think you are capable of seeing it. See if you can negotiate an understanding, a deal, something that would lead him to believe that you CAN see it. Try to talk reasonably about it versus being a whiner and hater about it.

My baby is smart but apparently all of that went over her head because she just insisted on being a whiner and a hater about it with her dad. Two weeks ago, this is what she sent Tim via text message:

I am going 2 c orfan 1 day and it wil b soon even if ur taking me or momy sneaks me 2 c it so im not talking 2 u til u say i can c it so go ahed and say it or i wil morf my body in2 urs and i wil say it.

BTW, I LOVE that message. Brilliant and funny. Where does she get that stuff?

So last night was THE night and CJ finally got to see her movie.

And it was pretty good. It wasn't scary; it was more suspenseful and very much like The Bad Seed. I think it was rated R mainly because there are children involved in the suspense and most americans are just too tender-hearted for that kind of stuff.

But again, no well-known actors (my favorite actors in the world are the unknown) and a creepy storyline that is pretty anti-Hollywood. Not totally but a good dose of indie in it. The f-bomb was the punch line of the movie, which was used very well.

So now what? Well, it's back to Project Runway on netflix: season 4 now. There are some instant movies to watch that are scary that I have queued up so we'll probably grab one or two of those in the interim.

But poor Mi-Mi gets stuck either 1) watching scary movies that she doesn't want to see or 2) not being able to see the scary movies that big sis can see.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

I can't recall where I found this book to add to my must-reads, but I'm glad I did find it.

First off, this was an extremely slow read for me. I just couldn't get my mind into its world. I've had many things going on that perhaps this is why, or the book wasn't just that good...but I enjoyed the book, so it can't be that. I know I'm looking for that next Pillars of the Earth and I'm not finding that...which leads me to believe that I should just read World Without End and venture right back into Kingsbridge and Ken Follett's amazing storytelling.

But back to THIS book, this was a very nice book that I wish I would have felt a deeper connection to...I am going to attribute it to right novel, wrong time.

Flavia de Luce is an 11 year old aspiring chemist. She is the center of this novel, and perhaps, several others which I will most definitely read. Flavia, or Flave, steals the show. She is brilliant beyond her 11 years and can actually piece things together to solve a crime!

But her antics at doing it is incredible. The novel is light and heartwarming, despite the crime being a murder in Flave's own cucumber garden. How she discovers who it was that was murdered, why he was murdered, and whodunnit, is such a joy to read.

This book is certainly a great book to purchase for one's collection. I might as well have purchased it since I have kept it overdue from the library long enough to rack up some fees (I did get a waiver code for overdue fees I am hoping to use on this one...). But it's a nice hardback, with no book leaf cover -- green with the title imprinted on it...much like a linen/cloth like cover. Beautiful. Like my other book, that I do own, Jane Eyre.

I knew, as I read it, that this could not be the last of Flavia de Luce's criminal investigations. For goodness sakes she's only 11 years old! Plenty of time to read about her mysteries. And all along I thought 'i'm just not into serial mysteries'...but Flavia has proved me wrong and I look forward to her next unsolved crime.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Hacker

My next-door-office-neighbor has a very bad coughing problem. He coughs for hours on end. And this is not just a 'cough-cough' kind of cough. No. The cough he delivers is full of phlegm. And then he hacks a lugy, on top of coughing phlegmy stuff.

And he does this for hours. And loudly. I have to really find my 'zone' and tune it out. If not, I will be throwing up with disgust. It is ultimately one of the most disgusting things that someone could do in an office environment.

One other thing I can think of that's disgusting: clipping your nails at work. I also had the privilege of having an office mate that did this. His clippings would sometimes hit me. N----I----C----E.

Anyway, the hacker can be heard throughout the hallways of the floor I am on. I have had IMs sent to me with "How can you stand that?" "Why doesn't his manager say something to him?" or "YUCK!"

He doesn't seem to be a bad person. I have heard rumors that he can't stand loud noises. Interestingly ironic, I think.

Generally, I keep my door closed because his neighbor's neighbor (the other side of his office) is really LOUD. But that stuff doesn't entirely bother me. It can be interesting to hear her bitching about work but it wasn't too long ago that my heart actually ached because she had lost her husband and she would talk about the things she was doing (getting his funeral ready, cleaning up his clothes, etc.) and she would cry. And she would continue to talk while she cried. And it would rip me apart hearing her.

And the oddity was she would be talking to The Hacker, who would say nothing or say something that I couldn't hear. So maybe he needed to cough the words of sentiment to her.

But he is strange.

One day, as I was prodding along, typing out stuff: e-mails, documents, whatever, he stood outside of my door. Just standing there. And I sensed a presence. So I turned and he was just staring at me and then he said: you sure are a loud typist. I laughed and said "Yeah, and I'm fast too...I should win an olympic medal for how fast I am". And he laughed and walked away. But I think he was seriously trying to tell me that I was too noisy for him. MORE IRONY.

Today I heard him dialing into a conference call. He likes to not only cough loudly, but he likes to play anything on his computer loudly, or have his speakerphone on really loud.

So I heard the automated voice come on "Welcome to the conference center...please enter your conference code, followed by the pound sign". I heard him punching in numbers on the phone and then I heard him yell "SHUT UP!!!"

So this is when I paid attention. Everything else was background noise until I heard him yell. My thought was: Is he yelling at the automated voice on the phone? No way!

Yes way.

I then heard him tell the phone "I haven't pressed the POUND SIGN!"

And then a few more mumbles before he hung up and re-dialed in. At this point I heard him, not yell, but sternly say "you piece of shit".

Hmmm...talking to an inanimate object. That can't be good.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

One for the Bucket List

So I don't think I can draw up a list of bucket items and write them down all at once. If I try to think of something, I seemed to be pulling things out of the air "oh yeah! flying a kite would be cool". But I hate kites and recall, I have kiteophobia. But my point is, I would be spending more time trying to figure out what I want to do before I die as a research project vs. writing down exactly what it is I would WANT to do.

So today, as I watched an episode of Top Chefs - the one with Season 1 against Season 2 - I knew one item to add to my bucket list: to become a sommelier.

Laugh if you must. Can it be possible at 40 to train to become a sommelier? Yes. I think it is possible.

I don't necessarily need to work at a fine dining place to do the job. I am happy being the wine expert in my own home, hosting parties and pairing the wines appropriately.

But I think it is a great, technical, position in a role that I have a high regard, appreciation and respect for that I would like to hold one day.

I wonder if Sally Struthers has a program for that?

Cry Me A River

My quote is for the woman who was helping a patient at my doctor's office.

This is related to my Going Postal post about why people find their job sooooo difficult and put it out on others.

I had a follow-up appointment at my doctor's office yesterday afternoon. As I sat and waited, I couldn't help but keep glancing at a young girl sitting across from me, patiently waiting for something.

Finally, one of the women that works there -- a job title I have no idea what would be, but she has helped me check-out, as well as make appointments for me for specialists. Each time I've interacted with her, it's been OK but she definitely acts like she's on the edge of a nervous breakdown. The old "you have no idea how stressful my job is and I can't wait until i retire because I just works so hard that I am so exhausted by 2PM". But she hasn't BLOWN UP around me, so I just think of her as a silly old woman with a stereotypical attitude about her job.

But yesterday took the cake...well, almost.

The young lady apparently was waiting for this old bitty. And the old bitty came out of an office, with her exasperated tone and fast walk of importance and frustration. "I actually have to do work?!" agitation, is how I viewed it.

She plopped herself down exaggeratedly on a chair and started with that stern tone with the young lady, who is now standing near the old bitty.

I eavesdropped as I play solitaire (windows classic, draw three, vegas style) on my iTouch, but my focus is on the interaction with the old bitty and young lady.

The young lady was obviously stressed. To my ignorant eye, she seemed more upset about whatever condition she was dealing with vs. the old bitty, or waiting for the old bitty.

She was soft-spoken while old bitty increased her tenseness in her tone with every question:
OldBitty(OB): What hospital are you going to?
Young girl(YG): The new WakeMed facility.
OB: which one?
YG: I don't know the name - the one off Durant.
OB: Who is the doctor?
YG: I forgot his name. I'm sorry. I didn't pay attention.
OB:
YG:
OB: it's going to be okay.
YG:

The Old Bitty then makes a call, and is talking REALLY LOUD about this girl's appointment at WakeMed. I found this extremely inappropriate as the entire staff and patients in the waiting room can hear what procedure this young girl is going to have Wednesday at WakeMed off Durant Road (i changed the information for anonymity of the young girl, even though I don't know who she is...).

While the old bitty is on hold, she turns, as caring as she can, to the young girl and said 'everything is going to be okay. are you upset about the procedure?' To which the young girl said "No, it's not that. I just don't like feeling like I'm the cause of all of this frustration."

Oh boy. I wanted so bad to go off on the old bitty. It reminded me of a similar-but-not-quite situation, many years ago, where I eavesdropped on someone and called them on it. I wanted to tell the Old Bitty that she was rude to her. But I felt like it wasn't my call. But I felt so much for the young girl, who was obviously upset about something else and then had to deal with this douche, who decided to act like her day was more important than someone else.

I decided I would tell my doctor's nurse. I have a great rapport with her: we talk about our family, vacations, and The Biggest Loser. She would listen and she would concur with me, I thought. I had it all planned out.

And when my nurse called me over? It wasn't her!!! It was someone I had never met before! And I was not prepared. Well, I was. I said nothing. I thought it was a 'sign' that it just wasn't my business.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

What a Difference a Week Makes

When I finished my track workout this morning, I thought about how, just one week ago, I was running the Chase Run. Where did my week go? It couldn't have been that long ago!

So yes, last Tuesday was another Chase Run. My goal was 8:30 for four miles; I ended up doing 8:47 (that would be minute per mile). And man, I felt dead-in-the-water during that run. I just didn't have it in me. Granted, the week before I had a two day fast and anesthesia (just like the stuff Michael Jackson used!) Wednesday for an outpatient thing-a-ma-job so I felt like just running hard, for four miles, not listening to my head tell me STOP! was a great feat and I was not at all embarrassed by my effort.

Summer running is never good for me. I'm sure it's the same for most others but most times, I feel like I am the only affected by it...or perhaps, the only one complaining and ruminating about it. But I KNOW that I slow down in the humidity. Even though I KNOW this, I still get a bit frustrated with myself.

So my long runs have been a good 30 seconds to a minute slower than usual (again, per mile - running lingo here)...but so have been my short recovery runs *and* my tempo runs! I have one speed now for all runs: slower than usual. But I try not to dwell on the pace and just get those miles in.

Today was my first track workout in a long time. I mean speed work, not just running around in ovals. Today my coach had me do 3x1miles, around 8:15 - 8:30 per mile. We-he-he-hell, last week, I could barely hold an 8:47...which felt HARD...REALLY REALLY FRICKING HARD. So 8:15? I don't think so. 8:30? MMmmmm, that might be pushing it too.

So I started my warm-up run to the track and the first MINUTE was hell. And the great thing about hell is that it goes UP...well, the road does and I have to go up with it. But it ends down and I knew I would get that hell feeling out of my system in a few minutes.

The track was especially busy, with students playing lacrosse and other stuff laid out all over one side of the track. I wasn't sure if I should even run there but I saw one non-high-school-looking runner so I decided to take my chances and wait for someone to ask me to leave before assuming anything else. And no one did and despite having to run around clueless teenagers, it was all good.

I decided not to look at my watch and just run, without worrying about if I could hit even 8:30. I was breathing hard, feeling pretty good but not feeling fast. First mile: 8:17. Whoa! Where did that come from? But damn, I have two more to go.

Second mile felt a little more harder: 8:14. Wow! I'm on FIYARE!

Third mile: 8:21. Funny that it was the slowest and yet, I felt like it was, well, not the fastest mile, but closer to 8:15 than I thought.

My cool down ended up being a slow walk, then a slow jog back to the gym. But I was so tickled with myself that the summer humidity didn't bring me down TODAY.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Going Postal

I had to hit the post office this morning to pick up my box of K-Cups from Amazon. Why? I don't know. All the other times Amazon has delivered my coffee, they've dropped it off by the garage door. It's hit or miss when it comes to post office deliveries but I can tell you, when I see that orange postcard, I get annoyed.

'Why is that?' I pondered, as I got out of my car to get into the long ass line inside the building. This, after some asshole stole my parking space that I sat waiting to turn into with my TURN SIGNAL on.

You know: guy pulls out of space, I need to turn left into the space; car approaches on the right and turns into it. Isn't that nice? Karma will get him but today, I was about to. I stormed out of my car (after getting a better space next to the building), getting ready to confront him when he turned around and gave me a 'good morning'. It was a fraction of a second before he said that, that I decided not to. I didn't need to rear the ugly head of my angry persona. I didn't return the act of his greeting though.

But this is not why I dread going to the post office.

My dread is that it always, always, always has a line. And to stand in that line, I feel just as common as the people around me are. In this day and age, why do I even have to be here?

And of course, the staff is < sarcasm > ever so pleasant < /sarcasm >. Today, I hit the place a little after 9AM. It opens at 8:30. Already, the two staff members (with a line going out the door) are pissed off looking and curt when they do the "next" call (and we all shuffle along like the trained animals we are).

As I stood waiting, I thought "how bad can this job be?" I mean seriously, I think it would be FUN. No, no sarcasm involved in the writing of that sentence. I mean it. Sorting mail? I would LOVE THAT.

When I was pregnant with both my girls, part of my nesting (I think) was sorting and distributing the mail at the workplace. I would try to time it so that I could get to the mail before the admins did, and plopped everyone's mail in their appropriate mail slot.

When I worked as a bank teller, sometimes I had the opportunity to open mail and sort through who gets what. LOVED IT. Sure, they were mainly checks for loans, but I loved it.

And when I worked accounts receivable at a home fashions manufacturing place, I too, got to sort through the mail of all the major companies that were in bankruptcy, sending what little they could to pay the bill.

So, why would that be such a chore that the staff - and it doesn't matter which post office you visit, the staff is stereotypically PISSED OFF AT YOU for mucking their day - would be so upset.

As I got closer to pissed off postal worker #2, I looked at the station area and had already formed in my head how I would organize it if I worked there. Where I would put all the pre-paid envelopes, receive receipts, even just trying to contemplate what a customer could possibly do to piss me off...and I could not think of one thing. Even the most disgruntled customer couldn't take the joy out of my day working as a postal person...at least, if they don't steal my parking space.