Friday, December 31, 2010

Pondering life.

Trying to make sense of life and overcoming one's fears and obstacles isn't something that just happens overnight. There's no magic cure, no potion, no advice, no sudden changes that can make everything the just way we want it. We have to work for it. We realize that, accept it, and do what it takes, right?  Well, yes and no. It's easy if you know where to begin and it's hard as hell if not seemingly impossible if you don't.

We have one opportunity to make life count. We don't get seconds. Once we're done, we're done. Yes, it kinda sucks that we have so much to cram into a short span of life (it is short in comparison to the life span of our universe and the longevity of infinity) but if there's one thing we don't have control over, it's when we're born and when we die. Sure there are factors that shorten or lengthen our lives, but in the end, I think our final day is already set, it's on a calendar. Life and death are like points on a graph and they're marked for us ahead of time, maybe to make things easier for us, who knows? What points we choose in between to get from start to finish are totally up to us. Of course that's easier said than done.

Life isn't about material things, it's not about dollar value. In the end, how much money we have, the square footage of our home, the number of cars in the garage, the type of career we have, our highest level of education, our fame and fortune...none of those things matter. What really matters is the legacy we've left behind, the impact we make on what and who we left behind. Small impacts can leave huge wakes. I do not believe we are given this finite period of time on earth to just merely live and die and leave nothing in our wake to show for it. What we do matters. Who we are matters. We all matter.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Everyone gets down at one moment or another, it's part of life. We feel happiness, we feel sadness, sometimes we don't feel anything. Life isn't meant to be all good all the time. When I get into these moods, they're hard to shake. I just need some time alone, not talking to anyone, just thinking, maybe sometimes not thinking. I hate these moods but I can't help them. They hit me like a ton of bricks and I can't do a damn thing about it. I just have to figure things out and try and get past it.

I do a lot of thinking, sometimes too much of it. I can get into these serious moods where I want to block everyone and everything out so I can concentrate on my thoughts. I can't blame anyone else for the inner thoughts I have about not being content with my life at this moment. I could lay blame all over the place but I'd be a hypocrite. We are all responsible for the choices we make and that goes for me too. Ok so I am responsible, I take responsibility, congratulations Jess, now what in hell do you plan to do about it? 

That's a good question.

For me, change is hard. I've always had a difficult time adapting to new things. I've always been afraid of "what if?" and I've always been afraid of making mistakes. Over the years I've gotten more vocal about my opinions and ideas especially when they are at odds with the mainstream. I've stood up for myself when I felt like someone was trying to get the best of me. I've taken chances and been successful in some ways, and not so in others. But in all the changes over the years, I still have a long way to go. I want to change, I need to change. What kind of change you ask?  I am not quite sure. If I knew, I wouldn't be blogging it, I'd be doing it. All I can say is I am not content with the direction of my life. Funny thing is a lot of people think I have it all together. Well I guess I do but when I feel this discontent I suddenly wonder if it means I don't really have it all together? 

I am seriously beginning to think that the changes I'm going through are either a cause or effect of the really vivid dreams I'm having lately. In the dreams. Either the dreams are making me want and need the change, or the want and need for change is causing the dreams. It's no wonder I like to go to sleep at night, my thoughts can wander and I can slip into dreamland, where nothing is real but at least I can relax. 

All I know is that every day I'm trying to find myself and I'm not finding me, at least not the me I thought I'd find. And so I'm just going to keep searching.  I know, you'll tell me "just be content with what you have, quit searching and just let it be" but no, I can't do that. It's just not me. If I feel this way, there's a reason. I have to explore it, understand it and deal with it.  I just wonder what it will take to figure this out and when I do (and trust me I will), what will be my next step?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

As I get older, I look back on some of the interesting lessons I've learned in life...

Here's just a few of them:
  • Giving a teenager a beebee gun and saying "don't do anything stupid" is like dropping an alcoholic off at a bar and saying "now don't drink anything while I'm gone ok?"
  • Contrary to popular belief, beebees do not bounce off plate glass windows. And oh by the way, glass shatters. :D
  • Never start a story with "Back in St. Olaf..."
  • Never leave a musical instrument, even a rather large white one such as a tuba, sitting in the middle of the driveway. Cars are heavier than musical instruments. 'Nuff said!
  • It is very likely that wearing a dress on the same day as your underwear with the bad elastic is probably not the best idea. 
  • When your dad says, "grab the electric fence" to test if it works, he doesn't actually mean it. 
  • "Be careful the plate is hot" doesn't mean the first thing you do is touch the plate.
  • When a 93 year old woman tells you her jet black hair is real, it's a dye job. No matter what she says.
  • Your mother always hears you when you nutter under your breath. 
  • If you're going to run away from home, make it good. Pack a duffel bag, go cross country, don't just go across the street to the neighbor's house for cookies. That's just lame!
  • Most domesticated animals really don't think they look cute dressed up in your clothes. Actually non-domesticated animals would probably agree.
  • As a kid, you could literally do anything you wanted around your grandparents.
  • Your parents hated that when you were a kid, you did anything you wanted around your grandparents!
  • When your mother says, "I'm going to wash your mouth out with soap" she means it!
  • Eating spaghetti after having your mouth washed out with soap....well let's just say soap is not a great choice of appetizer and leave it at that.
  • Teenagers: never show your dad your fake ID and say "cool, eh pop?"
  • Never call your fourth grade teacher a "red headed witch" to her face. Do it behind her back!
  • Getting paddled regularly in school is not a rite of passage.
  • By the way, that lady you gave the finger to in traffic today after she pulled out in front of you and nearly caused a wreck...she's your Commanding Officer's wife.
  • Cemeteries really aren't the best places to meet people. 
  • Contrary to popular belief, animals are not people too.
  • When you're telling a joke that starts with "A priest, a rabbi, and a minister walk into a whorehouse..." be sure the guy you're telling it to is not the pastor of the local Baptist church. 
  • "Shady Pines, Ma" gets her quiet every time! 
  •  If you don't call your mother at least once a week, you'll never hear the end of it.
  • A penny for your thoughts doesn't buy much anymore. Inflation, you know.
  • It is quite certain that there's a guilt gene handed down from Jewish grandmothers to their daughters and granddaughters. 
  • When it comes to movie sequels, the "third time" is not the charm!
  • Gay men cannot be turned straight. No matter how hard you try.
  • Even the popular girls in high school had problems too. No really, they did!
  • Sushi is gross.
  • It really is impossible to travel from Atlanta, Georgia to Texarkana, Texas and back with 400 cases of Coors in 28 hours.
  • Little sisters are adorable, that is until they become ruthless teenage bitches.
  • Warning: Drinking too many screwdrivers (the DRINK silly!) can make you puke. Volumes!
  • If you preface a secret to a friend with, "now don't tell anyone, ok?" maybe it means she's probably not the best choice for secrets?
  • "The Devil Made Me Do it" ....not the best excuse to use with the cops.
  • Even though "the other guy" breaks the law 20 times a day and doesn't get busted, the person who never breaks it, will get busted the first time. Guaranteed!
  • If you're going to be arrested, at least plan it for a day when your hair and makeup look really good. You only get one chance to take a great mugshot! Make it count!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Every morning I wake up with this song in my head.

It's George Strait's latest "Breath you take". I can't listen to it without getting teary-eyed. Maybe because it resonates so much with me especially at this time of my life.



He looks up from second base dad’s up in the stands
He saw the hit, the run, the slide there ain’t no bigger fan
In the parking lot after the game he said
“Dad I thought you had a plane to catch”
He smiled and said “Yeah son I did”

Life’s not the breath you take
The breathing in and out
That gets you through the day
Ain’t what it’s all about
You just might miss the point
Tryin' to win the race
Life’s not the breaths you take
But the moments that take your breath away

Fast forward fifteen years
And a thousand miles away
Boy’s built a life he’s got a wife
And a baby due today
He hears a voice saying “I made it son"
He said “I told you dad you didn’t have to come”
He smiles and says ”Yeah I know you did”

Life’s not the breath you take
The breathing in and out
That gets you through the day
Ain’t what it’s all about
You just might miss the point
Tryin' to win the race
Life’s not the breaths you take
But the moments that take your breath away

Just like it took my breath when she was born
Just like it took my breath away when dad took his last that morn

Life’s not the breath you take
The breathing in and out
That gets you through the day
Ain’t what it’s all about
You just might miss the point
If you don’t slow down the pace
Life’s not the breaths you take
But the moments that take your breath away

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Writers write for all kinds of reasons...

I write because it clears my head and helps me think things out rationally. I am not as good speaking what is on my mind as I am writing it. I do what I know how to do and I know I do it well. What I write isn't always rational or reasonable but it is honest. If I can't be honest, then what is the point? I'm doing this for me, it's good therapy and I don't have to pay for it. One of the fringe benefits is that occasionally I have something to say that actually helps someone else. I find that simply amazing.

Looking out the window right now it is dreary, gray, cold and damp. Given that information you may likely assume that whatever I'm about to write is the result of weather-related depression. I assure you it is not. Or maybe it is and I am in denial. If I say it's weather-related, that implies what I am feeling is not real, just a side effect. I do not know what has provoked today's thoughts but weather-related or not, they are my thoughts and as such, they are real. Very real, at least to me.

I used to laugh and call this thing I'm going through a mid-life crisis but really I don't think it's a crisis. A crisis implies chaos and I've never been a chaotic person. I like "metamorphosis" because that implies slow change. And whatever this is--it is definitely slow change. But it's good slow change so I'm ok with it.  I didn't ask for the change, but I'm certainly not fighting it anymore. I feel like I'm slowly morphing into a better person and what could more could a person want? And fighting it? Phooey! Sometimes in life we just have to realize when and where we have control and when and where we don't. This is one of those moments and believe me I've learned over the years that fighting destiny never works. Besides, fighting it will make me chaotic, going with the flow ensures a smooth transition into whatever being I am about to become. Actually it's kind of fun watching the whole thing unravel. Now, it may be kind of fun for me, but certainly not for others! :)

With this change comes all sorts of interesting discoveries. I have discovered that there are things I once thought were important, are not important now.

Take politics for example. In regards tor political views I've changed quite a bit over the years. I'm not a liberal or a conservative, rather I'm an independent. When I was younger I was an idealistic Democrat, then I became an idealistic Republican. But then I realized I was neither. Oh don't get me wrong, I was always (and still am) idealistic, but I'm not either of those political persuasions. I hate being labeled left or right. I'm an Independent. Labeling myself as such fits my personality since as a Libra I've always been a compromise seeking, placating, centrist. I find that sometimes I agree with my Democrat friends, other times my Republican friends, and yet other times--neither. One thing I stay firm with through all the agreements and disagreements is my values. Those need not be compromised in order to agree or disagree. I have found that politics makes strange bedfellows and I love that I have so many friends from differing political views. I value my friendships and family relationships over politics any day.


I've also discovered that what I am looking for in people, especially friends, is far different. I accept fallibility now much more than I ever did before because I finally realized that there's no way I can be infallible. Human beings have weaknesses and faults, we make mistakes. This unhealthy search for perfection is insane because it doesn't exist. One thing that is important though that I look for are people who contribute to my life in positive ways, not negative. Anyone that brings me down gets kicked to the curb (in a nice way). Life is too short to be surrounded by people who bring me down. That is true, or at least it should be, for all of us. Think of our much better our lives would be if we just set aside the people who cause us the most pain. Not saying it's easy because there are times these are people you really care about. But...nobody is going to look out for you the way you will. And if you get one shot at life, you need to make it count. We all do.

Slowly but surely I am discovering that what I once wanted out of life is not what I want now. I've always had a problem deciding the course of my career path. I'm definitely a Libra, in an attempt to make a decision, we weigh everything carefully. Sometimes we weigh things so often we have a difficult time making any sort of decision. Anyway, I digress. On the "to be or not to be" list  I know now the "not to be" includes a few more things including teaching. I think it would be great to teach high school history but seriously, by the time I finish my degrees, by the time I get certified, I am not going to want to do it. Being a teacher also includes being a babysitter, referee, policeman, counselor and all kinds of stuff I just don't want to be. I really don't want to parent someone else's

Another of the great discoveries, though I don't think I can actually call it a discovery as much as I can call it just plain and simple old fashioned change. It's called speaking my mind, tactfully of course, but speaking it nonetheless. For years, the term speaking my mind was akin to the old muttering under my breath to mom as she sent me to my room (she always heard what we said!).  Speaking up isn't about just muttering under my breath "you suck" it's more like just telling people how you feel about things, about them. I'm no longer intimidated, not that I ever was but there were moments when I was concerned about speaking my mind for fear of retribution or loss of respect. Then I figured out people may actually respect you if you just be honest with them. When I am able to just speak my mind openly to someone about something that is bothering me, I feel like I can put the issue to rest and move on, without regret or harboring ill feelings. Life is too short to let stuff fester because you don't want to piss anyone off.

You know what? This is funny. I was just thinking...what problem was it I was trying to solve when I first began writing this post? I guess I must have solved it and didn't even realize it. LOL!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Outrageous earmarks in the Omnibus bill

For the record, there are 6,714 earmarks, totaling a whopping $8,313,820,025 in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill.  Yep you heard it--over $8 billion! 

Click here to view the excel spreadsheet listing all of the earmarks including amounts, descriptions, and sponsors.  (The spreadsheet is safe, it's an official listing, no viruses or trojans).

You can also view this info as well as the number of earmarks per sponsor at Jamie Dupree's "Washington Insider" blog .

Beware, it's a long, long list.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Believing America is great = arrogant and misplaced idealism?

I read a post on a friend's facebook today, it was written by a friend of hers. The discussion had to do with his statement that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. He asked me what good flowed from American freedom and said he pitied me if I think I live in freedom here in America  (he lives in the UK). He thinks we look at our freedom as all about consumption. It's so much more than that, he could never understand.

I don't know this guy and I wasn't going to get into a pissing contest with him especially since I didn't know him and since it would have been disrespectful on my friend's page. But I can't deny he was pissing me off with his anti-American rhetoric about my "arrogant and misplaced idealism." Rather than possibly get angry enough to say something rude, I told him we had to agree to disagree and move on. Which is of course when he made the arrogant and misguided comment.

I don't deny that the "system" we have here is somewhat flawed. Freedom has its price as does capitalism.We can't live in a utopia, it doesn't exist and it shouldn't exist. Our system can only be as perfect as the human beings creating and running it. Man is fallible and prone to making mistakes and so our system will be imperfect. I accept that.

I choose freedom over oppression or socialism any day of the week and I would rather live in this country than in any other. With all our flaws here, it still beats countries where women are treated as second class citizens, where they are abused, tortured and murdered for being raped or committing adultery or where young girls are forced into marriage at a young age. It still beats living in a nation where the government controls the press. It still beats living in a nation where the secret police can pull you out of your home at any moment and nobody ever sees you again. It still beats living in a nation where the government dictates every single facet of your life and where holy leaders and religious fanatacism is the rule of law. With all our flaws America is still a beacon of freedom to the rest of the world. Why on earth would millions want to move here every year if it weren't so?

Freedom offers opportunity, ingenuity, creativity, prosperity, and hope. Oppression does none of that.  It's as simple as that.

There's this assumption by many who live outside America that because we Americans think our country is great, that somehow we dislike people from other nations or think we are better than them. That's not true. I think our system of government is the best in the world, but we're comparing governments not people.There are billions of people on this planet, and so many of them are good and decent people.  Living in a free nation does not mean the people of that nation are overall better than the people in any other nation.

I love my country and I cherish my freedom. So long as I do not act in a manner that violates someone else's civil rights (fair enough) I can pretty much do what I want. I'm free to blog my views and opinions without the government arresting me. I'm free to write letters to the editor under my own name without the secret police knocking on my door. I am free to seek an education, major in anything I want, be anything I want, and make as much money as I want. I can vote for any candidate of my choice and I can worship in whatever way I choose.

If being proud to be American and appreciating my freedom and thinking it's all pretty damn GREAT makes me arrogant and misguided, so be it.  I'll take it any day over the alternative.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What was your moment?

I would like to think that every one of us has experienced a moment in our lives when another person said or did something that inspired us. That inspiration may have led us in any number of directions. While some may have been inspired to make changes in their own lives, others may have been inspired to do something that changed the lives of others. Inspiration comes in many forms and can have many different results. To be inspired by someone is an amazing thing, but to inspire is even greater.

I would find it very interesting to hear the many stories from people from all walks of life who have inspired and/or been inspired. I think it would make a great book, don't you?

Who do we put first? Ourselves or others?

I'm conflicted.

Who do we put first? Ourselves or others?


Do we put aside the things we want and need so that others can have what they want and need?

Or do we say "this is my life, I'll do what I want."

I'm conflicted.

But you already know that.

DH and I commute to and from work together, we do our grocery shopping and errands on the way home from work. On the weekends, I like to just chill out and be home. Generally I have homework and since it is difficult to stay up too late on weeknights doing it, I catch up on it on the weekends. Also, I just like being home--it's relaxing to me. I spend most hours of my workdays solving other people's problems and at the end of the day I am  mentally exhausted. This doesn't mean DH's job doesn't exhaust him too, but not being the one who does his job I cannot speak about the details as well as I can my own. While I love people, on the weekends, on my time, I don't want to be around them. Weekends are my time to regenerate.

There are many times DH will want to go somewhere on the weekends and I'll politely decline. While I like being home and relaxing and getting done things I need to get done, it doesn't eliminate the pangs of guilt I sometimes feel for declining. One part of me thinks I should do what I want and part of me thinks I should sacrifice and do something he wants to do. Sometimes I compromise, most other times I do not. I come back to thinking that this is my life and I should not have to do something I don't want to do.

Today was a difficult situation. Weeks ago DH asked me if I wanted to go to Tallahassee to the Antique Car Museum. I've been there with him three times, it's an awesome place. But after three trips, I don't find anything interesting about it anymore. I mean, how many times can you look at the same old antique cars? Well, because I knew DH would get upset if I did not go, I relented and told him I would. I figured sometimes we do things we don't want to do, if it makes others happy. Isn't that the way it works?  I have a guilty conscience what can I say? Besides, he said that we were going to this historic antebellum town we read about near Tallahassee, I thought as a History major I might enjoy that.

Last night I went to bed late because I was up studying till about 11 pm. this morning when the alarm went off, I went back to sleep. I did eventually get up thirty minutes before we were supposed to leave and he got annoyed when I wasn't ready in time. Finally I told him to go by himself, that I didn't want to go anyway. So he left and I while I felt bad, I was relieved. I could spend a peaceful day studying my notes for the Journalism final and he could go and do whatever he wanted to do. Still, while I am actually glad I did not go, I can't help but feel guilty. Putting myself in DH's shoes, what if he doesn't like going places by himself? He seems happy to go by himself most places, he loves to railfan (watching trains) and other places by himself. Maybe he's indifferent to whether or not I go with him. If he is, he'll never tell me.  He told me this morning that he wanted me to go to Tallahassee because he knew I would enjoy it. So was he doing it for himself? Or for me?

Don't get me wrong, occasionally I am known to do things I don't want to do, for the benefit of others. Take Thanksgiving for example. I didn't want to go to my brother's house, nothing to do with him, just that I wanted to be home. I had a ton of homework and research to do and would have much rather cooked a turkey at my house for the two of us. But months earlier, I had told mom I would take her and grams to bro's house and when mom couldn't go, there was no one else to take grams. Grams can drive at 93 but we thought it best she not have to make the 1 1/2 hour drive by herself.  DH knew I did not want to go, yet I did it anyway. I simply said, "I told mom I would do it, I can't not take grams."

I am sure that was on his mind today. And he would have been right to be angry. In one situation, I did something I didn't initially want to to, for my grandmother and mother, but in another situation I did not make that sacrifice for him. This leads me to be very apprehensive about making any commitments to anyone, anymore, about anything. If I refrain from making promises or commitments to anyone, nobody gets hurt. I have to stand my ground and say "I'm sorry but I cannot do it..." whatever "it" is and be honest about it and stand my ground.

Is that wrong?

I am not a selfish person by nature. Throughout my life, I've been the kind of person to do things for others without asking for anything in return. It just seems that as I get older, I like to think about myself first. I guess it's self-preservation mode kicking in. This does not mean I don't care about others, I do. It's just that what matters to me and what is important to me personally is now an important part of the decision making process in my life. To be honest, this is one of those moments I miss being single when it really was "all about me" although in those days, even though I didn't have to account to anyone else, there were occasional issues of guilt, usually related to family. Being single doesn't eliminate that, believe me.

No one can tell me if I am right or wrong here, it is just something I need to sort out. Maybe I'll never sort it out. Maybe it's not even something that needs sorting out. Maybe it just is what it is.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Obama forgets the Coast Guard...

I am not at all pleased when the President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of the US Armed Forces forgets that there are FIVE armed military services. Recently President Obama thanked the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, but he forgot to thank the Coast Guard for their service in Afghanistan.  Yes, you heard it...Afghanistan. The Coast Guard is armed and ready and serving everywhere. In fact when it was brought up that he missed the Coast Guard, he seemed surprised they were even there.

For those who don't know...the USCG was founded August 4, 1790 and is the oldest seagoing service (the Navy Dept was not established until 1798) and one of the oldest organizations in the federal government. Known previously as the Revenue Cutter Service and Revenue Marine, it eventually earned the name United States Coast Guard in 1915. At that time its sole service was maritime law enforcement and rescues at sea.

Through the years the USCG picked up additional responsibilities including operation the nation's lighthouses, merchant marine licensing and merchant vessel safety ops. The Coast Guard has been a participant in every war the US has fought in since 1790. The USCG operates under the Department of Homeland Security in peacetime and under the Department of the Navy in wartime, at the direction of the President. 

Signalman Douglas Munroe won the Medal of Honor for sacrificing his life to save marines trapped on a beach at Guadalcanal.  In recent years, the Coast Guard has been more active than ever before. The Coast Guard rescued over 33,000 people after Hurricane Katrina. The Coast Guard coordinated the "largest maritime evacuation in history on 9/11" when it coordinated boats to move half a million people off lower Manhattan after the collapse of the Towers.  Armed Coast Guard vessels patrolled the shores 24/7 after 9/11.  Since its creation, the USCG has saved a million lives including 300,000 illegal immigrants.

The Coast Guard is everywhere. We participate in military missions, port security, aids to navigation, environmental disaster response, drug enforcement operations, maritime law enforcement, icebreaking, ship safety inspections, search and rescue, just to name a few of our responsibilities.  The Coast Guard has been an important part of this nation's maritime and military history. Coastie men and women have given their lives and sacrificed much to serve their country.

That's your history lesson for today. Like my fellow Coasties past, present and future, I am honored to have served. I don't need the President to thank me to feel good about my accomplishments in the USCG, but it would have been nice for him to at least acknowledge the sacrifices these brave men and women make every single day.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday dinner madness...

Holidays.

The way it's supposed to work is that family gets together and has a nice meal and all is well.

Right?

Wrong.

Holidays are that special time of year when mom has to remind--no, wait--beg--everyone to be on their best behavior, which of course in reality, never happens.

There are many personalities at the family dinner. Take for example the relative who tells the most inappropriate jokes at the table during dinner and the family member sitting across from that person who is slowly sliding down her chair and onto the floor all the while saying PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT FINISH THAT PUNCH LINE. In the meantime once the punch line is actually uttered, there's the family member who laughs hysterically at the joke while everyone else is busy picking their collective jaws up off their laps. There's the family member who sits at the table forcing his opinion on everyone else while his spouse rolls her eyes, gives the evil eye and jabs said person in the ribs which is not supposed to be noticed but always is. There's the matronly one aka grandmother aka martyr who insists that she have no ice in her drink and take the smallest portion of everything which by the way consists of any food that is burned or overcooked or an "end piece."  To round things out we have the teller-of-tall-tales whose stories get more outrageous with every family dinner and finally (drum roll please), there's the relative who has an alarm clock in her colon that tells her when the dishes are ready to be cleared so she can make a run for the bathroom.

And of course I wouldn't know a thing about this kind of family dinner, now would I?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Our experiences make us who we are...

We are the products of our experiences, they make us who we are. The sum total of our life is wrapped up in these experiences and we should be thankful we've had them. These life experiences include people, people whose words or actions have impacted our lives in a variety of ways. I am for the most part, a people person. While there are times I enjoy seclusion, there are also times I need people. I love to talk, discuss and debate, and hear other people's stories.  I love to hear the life stories of people older than me in the hopes that I can learn something from them and I love to share my life experiences with those younger than me, in the hopes that they can learn something from me.

Throughout the course of my life I have met a variety of people from all walks of life. Never at the moment of meeting them did I understand the importance they had in my life. It was only later when I reflected on the experience of knowing them did I realize how truly blessed I was to have known them.

The high school teacher who took the time to counsel me when I felt the fear of peer pressure.

The high school friend who, after years not having been in touch, returned to my life and has blessed it greatly with her presence.

The Baptist minister who I'd never met, but after being asked by a friend, offered to conduct the service at my father's funeral.

The woman who managed the dive shop who after a two-hour conversation talked me into leaving the city I was living in and moving back home where I could be near people who cared about me.

The friend who, knowing all the stupid things I'd done in my past, saw I was going to repeat certain mistakes and advised me against it yet when I did repeat them she was there for me through it all.

The mom who, as we both get older, seems to see only the good things in me and none of the faults. 

The Sales & Marketing Director who hired me with no experience just because she liked my spunk and admired my military service.
 
The former professional equestrian who has become my friend and makes me smile and offers hugs and kindness every day.

The coworker turned friend who lends his ear to me because he cares and because we think alike and he thinks of me as part of his own family.

The actress and comedienne who befriended me and makes me laugh and challenges me with good debates and discussion every day. 

The nurse practitioner who, no matter how busy she is, always takes the time to listen to me when I tell her "I know something just isn't right with me."

The graduate student who, no matter how busy she is, always makes time to come by my office to strike up a friendly chat and ask me how my day is going.

The company commander in boot camp who got right up in my face and told me he was not letting me give up or give in.

The manager of what was once my favorite clothing store, who, whenever I went in there, struck up a conversation with me and made me smile. 

The former professor turned good friend who takes the time to write to me all the time and praises me, advises me, and encourages me to be the best I can be and never give up on my dreams.

The writer who, having made a highly successful film about his life, has become my friend and continues to inspire me and my writing to this very day.

The old friend from elementary school who makes me smile when we talk about the good old days as young children.

I am thankful for all the people I have met along the way who have been a part of my life. Though it would be easy to say I got where I am all by myself, it would not be true.  The people I have met and the experiences have shaped my past and they shape my present and future and I am forever grateful for them.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Turning point...

I don't mind saying things other people are afraid to say. I used to be afraid of what people might think but then I realized for every person who does not understand where I am coming from, there is someone who does. It is important for me to speak my mind not just for me but for all those out there who can't or won't. The most important reason though really is for me to be able to get things out and try and make sense of them.

I am not a happy person.

I am not a sad person.

I just am.

Am what?

I don't know.

That's why I'm here.

There are times I want to leave the life I have behind and search for something else, something more fulfilling. I am not saying the grass is greener on the other side and I am not saying I'm packing my bags tomorrow. It's just that I feel the need to explore, really live life, find out what my purpose is and why I'm here. There are times I want to put in my notice at work, pack my clothes, some money and say goodbye to the husband, the cats, the job, mom, grams, and my friends. This doesn't mean I don't care about the people around me, I do. And let me just say very firmly, the problem isn't them, it's me. 

I am regarded by my family and friends as an excellent problem-solver. This time though the problem is me which makes the process of solving much more difficult. One of the reasons I write is because it helps me think through my problems and so this is just a step in that process. I don't expect the answers to appear overnight but at least what I am doing here is a start.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Reflecting...

When I was a child, I felt there was something simply magical about this time of year. When the leaves began to change from deep green to burnt orange, red, and yellow and when the weather cooled, I felt invigorated and happy. Of course like any other child I also looked forward to the perks of the holiday season like time off from school, visiting relatives, big family dinners, cold weather, putting up the Christmas tree and playing outdoors.

As an adult, I still feel reinvigorated when this time of the year approaches but now I spend this time reflecting upon my life and its meaning. It is a process that I do best alone. By alone I mean I don't talk about it, rather I write about it because it is just easier for me to convey my thoughts in writing. If I had to actually verbalize my thoughts in this matter, I would make a mess of it and sound like an idiot.  As fun as that sounds I think I'll pass for now.  Time to get back to my thinking...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The phone conversation went something like this...


Mom: What can I say? I'm just not a morning person.

Me: Nope, you definitely are not. In fact, well let me just say this...we used to hate it when you got up in the mornings!

Mom:  Why?

Me: Because you were so GRUMPY! Those first few hours were hell for us.

Mom: Your father used to say that.

Me: Well he definitely knew what he was talking about. He wasn't like that. He was always happy-go-lucky!

Mom: I don't know why I was like that. I had three kids, a lot of stress.

Me: Yeah ok. Since I can say this now and get away with it may I say,"mom you were a real bitch in the mornings! And since Kim [sis] was like that too, you have no idea what it was like growing up with you both like that in the same house every morning! [LOL]

Mom: Was I that bad?  I'm so sorry.

Me: Oh now you apologize? [LOL]

Mom: I had a  lot going on back then when you guys were kids.

Me: Oh Please! [LOL] you were like that even when we weren't kids. Hell, we were all grown up and moved out and you were still that way. Dad used to say "Oh God your mother's up!" [LOL] When I was living there as an adult with you guys, dad and I would make sure we cleared the house before you woke up because we knew when you got up man you would be bitching for hours. [LOL]

Mom: I'm sorry. [LOL]

Me: Oh it's ok, I look at it this way, it was like a really bad horror movie, like the Exorcist. All you needed was some pea soup and the ability to turn your head 360 degrees...well ok all you needed was some pea soup. You had the other one down pretty good. [LOL]

Mom: Your poor father, he's probably up there [heaven] laughing right now.

Me: Oh yeah he is but he was used to it after 43 years. [LOL]



It's nice when you get to an age when, after all the crap you put your mother through in your youth, you can pick on her and she apologizes! Mom was a good sport and took it all in stride, as always.   :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

A small act of kindness goes a long way.

I was rather busy at work today and being a Tuesday, I was trying to get some major projects completed before leaving for my two-hour Journalism lecture which breaks my day in half and eats into my productivity!

In the midst of advising one of my grad students shortly before class, another student walked into my office just to give me a great big hug! It made my day. Truth be told, we're like one big happy completely dysfunctional family and I mean dysfunctional in a good way!  They know my moods, they know when I'm going insane, they know when I'm stressed. And they always have a kind word, a joke, or a hug. I am so thankful to know them and be a part of their lives!

We have over 100 grad students, most of them from the US, but some others from countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, China, Korea, Greece, Mexico, Albania, Haiti, Colombia, Honduras, Ecuador, South Africa, India, and Bulgaria. I have learned so much from them. Some of the most fascinating conversations I've had have been with them.  I don't think I've ever met a nicer group of young people ever.

This part of my life has been a fantastic journey and the experience of having known them will stay with me forever, having changed me in ways I never thought possible. Actually I believe they have been a small part of what has inspired me to be a better person and for that I am thankful.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Contemplating Generation X

As the children of the Baby Boomers and grandchildren of the Greatest Generation, Generation X (the "X" symbolizing the absence of a specific generational cause or purpose) was born with big shoes to fill. If Gen Xers have ever felt a nagging sense of purpose, wondering what their contribution to history should have been, that comes as no surprise. After all, their grandparents saved America and the world from Fascism and Nazism in the 1940's and their parents were idealistic revolutionaries and catalysts of political and social change in the 1960's and 70's. In comparison to those incredible accomplishments, surely the generation to follow had some great feat awaiting them. However, looking back, what has Generation X done? What contributions have they made? What defines them?

In the case of Gen Xers perhaps their identity is not so much tied to any historical contribution or accomplishment as much as it is the shared culture and experiences of their youth. Aging generations often believe that life was better and simpler in the past than in the present. Considering the increased pace at which America has progressed in the past several years, it is natural for Gen Xers to believe themselves the last to enjoy the good old days. They were the last to experience a type of American culture that no longer exists and will never exist again. Besides, does anyone really believe that Generation Y (also known as the Millenials) will look back upon 2010 with the same fond memories?

Every generation has their moment in the sun, when they hold the reigns. Right now it is the Boomers but as they head into the golden years, their children await their turn. As that happens, it may not be too far fetched to believe that the Gen Xers, closing in on 50, will still have an opportunity to make their mark on history. Perhaps what will come to define them will not be merely a shared culture of their youth but their accomplishments in later years, or even better and more significantly, the journey in-between.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lessons from friendship...

I have a friend who is going through a very rough debilitating illness. It gets progressively worse, there is no cure, and someday it will end her life. The pain of this illness has sucked her into a great depression. She has her good days and bad days though the bad days seem to take over more often now. To see pictures of her you would not guess she is so sick, that's because she always seems to have a smile on her face. Two things seem to put that great smile on her face--her children and horses.

Nothing I say or do can take away her pain and that is difficult for me because I have always been a person who wants to ease other people's suffering. I want to make them feel better. In this case, what can I do? I can be her friend, listen to her, reassure her, and just be there for her when she needs me.

As I get older I learn more from my life experiences and the people I meet. My hope is that through my experiences I become a better person. I feel that there is a great lesson to be learned from my friend, something about appreciating life, friendship, and dealing with pain. I'm not afraid to say that I don't appreciate life as much as I should. I know I am not the only one either. I am also quite sure I do not put into it and get out of it what my friend has even in all her pain.  I can't believe I'm about to use a TV metaphor to explain this but... "Dying changes everything"... is basically true.  It changes how you look at life, how you handle everything from the moment you find out that it's happening to you.


My friend and I are the same age, less than two months apart. I think about how much pain she is in,  how she has everything to live for. She really appreciates life and so desperately wants to hold on to all the wonderful things she has and live as normal a life as possible. Then I think about myself and how I am still trying to figure out how to live my life and enjoy it. I try but I'm still not there. You know how you can look at a picture of someone smiling and you can see how much they absolutely love their life, all in that one smile? I want to be that person. I just don't know how to get there. What does it take? When do we figure it out? Do we really ever get it?

And so the lesson continues...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

“We should expect and depend on affluent people to pay the bills”

....that was the quote of Alachua County Commissioner Paula Delaney at a swearing-in ceremony of a fellow commissioner. Delaney turned what was supposed to be a happy ceremony into her own political soapbox. She began the argument that lowering property tax bills would harm the poor people in Alachua County who depend on government programs.

Politicians say the stupidest things at the most inappropriate moments, don't they?

I can go along with social programs, there are some we need and without them, those who benefit would be an even greater burden on society. But seriously, to use what was intended to be a joyous celebration to jump on one's political soapbox and to insult people in the community who have worked hard and been able to accumulate some financial success, is just completely stupid .

We ALL have a responsibility to our community and our country. It is just wrong for one segment of the population to carry the rest.

I could say a lot more here but just thinking about this just makes me angry. So let's just leave it at "Paula Delaney is an idiot" and move on.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Because I like to do things right the first time LOL

So there I was telling my friend Alexis today how if you're going to go to jail, you need to make it for a really good reason. I mean don't be a weenie and go to jail for something minor. Can you imagine telling the other inmates "I'm here because I didn't pay my parking tickets?"  I don't think so. No, no it's got to be BIG, I mean something that makes the time incarcerated worth it. I figure that with all the skateboarders, pedestrians & cyclists on campus, it's open season especially on those idiots who never bother to look either way before crossing the street in front of traffic. 

Yep, the way I see it, if I'm going down, it's not going to be for just one measly little skateboarder. Oh no,  if I'm going down I'm taking a half dozen or so of them with me. Just head down Museum Road going the speed limit which is 20mph, I could easily take 'em out.

That would at least show my cellmates I don't mess around, ya think? If I do something, I damn well do it right the first time :D

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Last Friday while moving furniture out of my office in preparation for renovations, I inadvertently left an item on a file cabinet in the hallway. I never saw it again. The item was a Star Wars light saber my mother gave me for my 40th birthday last year. That was a special birthday, not just because I turned 40 but it was the first birthday since my dad died and to brighten the mood, I celebrated with family and friends. Mom gave me this unusual gift because one stressful day at work I remarked that I wished I had a light saber so that I could wield it and make things at work go my way. Little did I know how popular that saber would be in my Department. The fabulous blue neon light and cool sounds made it a great conversation piece among faculty, staff and students.

Sadly, this is just one of many thefts from University departments in recent years. Office equipment and personal items have disappeared from private offices by thieves working quickly and quietly. It would be nice to be able to leave one’s office to walk to the water fountain or coworker’s office down the hall without the worry that someone might steal you blind. But alas, it is not so.

By now my birthday gift likely adorns a wall in an apartment, dorm or fraternity. To the thief, I say enjoy! Maybe someday if you’re lucky, it will happen to you. 

Monday, November 08, 2010

Well, they didn't just walk off by themselves...or maybe they did.

How difficult can it be to figure out who cut and removed the phone lines in an office suite?

Consider the mystery which took place at an institution of higher education recently. A renovation is taking place. In one week, one half of the hallway (renovation #1) is to have its offices renovated and in the following week, the other half of the hallway (renovation #2) is to have its offices completed.

On Friday and in preparation for renovation #1, the individuals who occupy the office suite move out so it can be renovated. There are three phases of renovation. First, the carpeting/tile and asbestos underneath must be removed. Second the flooring contractor lays the wood floor. Third, the individuals who work in the suite will paint on their own offices. Takes about a week to complete.

After the wood flooring is installed (one week after the move out), one of the individuals who works in the suite begins the painting. It is at point she realizes that somewhere between phase one and three (one week) the phone cables were completely removed from the three offices in the suite. Someone pulled them out through the ceiling. Not only that, but the end of one of the cables was found in one of the offices, just laying on the windowsill. The phone it was connected was found in the cabinet in that office with the phone cord neatly wrapped around it.

And so began the saga of trying to figure out who cut and removed the lines. Was it the asbestos abatement contractor? The flooring contractor? Telecommunications? Or was it the cable network systems people who were contracted to run some cable in the GIS lab on our floor?

The asbestos abatement team denied cutting/removing any lines. Then the flooring contractor denied doing so. That left the cable guys. But they didn't do it either. Their work order was ONLY for the lab on our floor, down the hall from the suite, which is owned by another academic department. Frustrated, calls were made to the project manager in charge of getting the crews in and out to do the work. He had no idea what happened, he did not authorize it. Calls were made to the telecommunications department on campus in case they were doing any work in the building. They had no knowledge of it. They suggested calling the information technology guys on campus who may be running new cable. And of course they had no idea what was going on but were sure it wasn't them. It was beginning to become a nightmare just trying to figure out WHO cut and removed the wires. Two dozen phone calls were made with all the individuals saying "We didn't do it, call so and so"

Finally to help the people who work in the suite, the guys from the cable network service who were running cable in and out of the GIS lab came back in and offered to run some cable into the suite to get phone service. But they can't actually connect it, no the telecom installation guys have to do that. Ahh but that is going to cost someone. Who will pay for it? The department? They did not do it. The asbestos contractor? They did not do it. The flooring contractor? They did not do it. The cable guys? Nope. After hours on the phone it is still impossible to determine who did this dastardly deed and nobody is sure who is going to pay to have the lines reinstalled. And be assured that whenever there's a state run institution involved in anything, there's never a simple solution to any problem. The truth of the matter is that two people in the same department in some areas of these institutions can have absolutely no idea what each other is doing. But I'm quite sure you are not surprised.

And just when you thought this was the end, there's more.

A few days later, one of the offices at the end of the hall which was renovated at the same time as the office suite, was found to have both phone cables still hanging along the wall, with one exception...their ends had been severed. So now they have no phone service either.

At the very moment I was told about the phone lines being severed in this latest office, I heard a noise down the hall. It was very distinctive and familiar. It was the sound of a very sharp flat metal object scraping something. Yep, it was the asbestos guys down the hall removing the tile from the floor with those very shovels. Which leads me to wonder...considering the cables hang in corner of the office, did they, instead of taping the cords up to the wall, simply leave them on the floor, cutting them while shoveling up the tile?

Hmm...

Except this one mystery still lingers: Where did the cables go in the suite? Those cables were not only cut but completely disappeared and were pulled through the ceiling never to be seen again.

Considering that the left and right hands in some areas of said institution have no idea who is doing "what" and when "what" is being done, everyone is probably better just now knowing, although, at a place like this, it is actually easier (not to mention less stressful) to believe the cables just cut and removed themselves than to believe this problem will be solved quickly and efficiently.

And oh by the way, so far renovation #2 is underway and the cables have not decided to vanish. But I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Do not go gentle into that good night

I do not know why it came to me suddenly, one of my favorite poems.  The author begs, pleads his father not to let death take him easy. He knows his father must go but he wants him to fight it with every fiber of his being. Fight for that last breath, that last word, that last sight and sound, that last moment of life before the light extinguishes forever. It is an incredible poem with such power and meaning.  I have always taken great comfort in reading the words, though I am not sure why. They are somewhat reassuring, at least to me.


"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning
They do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight
And learn too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you my my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

-Dylan Thomas

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Best candidate vs. Lesser of two evils

So...the Republicans took the House and the Democrats have the Senate. That's the kind of balance of power I like to see. With the big turnover, it might be safe to say "the people have spoken."   But there's something bothering me about that. How many votes yesterday were for the best candidate and how many were for the lesser of two evils

How many people were elected yesterday simply because the other major party candidate was in their minds, a worse choice? How many people cast a vote for someone they didn't truly believe in just because they felt they had to do everything possible to keep the other guy out? I used to do that and then I realized that voting for someone I had no confidence in just to be sure the other guy didn't get elected was the same as throwing my vote away. I couldn't live with that.  If neither of the two major party candidates is the best one for the job then I vote for another candidate who I feel is better suited. My die-hard Republican friends tell me a vote for the third party is like a vote for the Democrats. That may be true but at least my conscience is clear. In the mad attempt to do anything and everything necessary to make sure the other guy doesn't get elected, I feel like we've lost sight of the real meaning of the vote.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

And now for last night's dream

I had a strange dream last night. Or rather two strange dreams that ran together.

In the first dream I'm at my parents house and they weren't home. I was living there with them, in my old room. They had an old washer/dryer set and a new set and I was using one set and trying to move the other out of their utility room which I couldn't do by myself.  I think mom was away visiting dad in the hospital. I have lots of dreams like that where mom is on a trip visiting dad who isn't dead but in a hospital. And I have dreams too that he comes home from his hospital stays and he's just fine. And we're like "hey you're not dead after all." Anyway........I don't remember much from that first dream. But the second one? Oh crap. It was even stranger. 

In the second dream, somehow I was zapped away to another place by some company who needed me to help a crew finish building the death star--yeah the REAL Death Star. I am NOT kidding. And no, I was not on any drugs!  Anyway, I was zapped into another world, with people just like me. We were wearing uniforms, different colors for different teams. We slept in rooms that looked like the inside of a military barracks. We had to put our shoes under our bed in a certain way, and we had to wear certain things on our uniforms that designate what team we were on or how long we were there. I spent an awful lot of time trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing.  It was a very bad and rough place. Like a prison.

I had not had the chance to tell anyone where I was of course, I had been zapped away that quick. I did find out we were allowed to make very short phone calls so I was able to make a call home to mom and dad. I talked to both of them and told them I did not have much time on the phone (only a few minutes). I could NOT get a hold of DH. He was living at grams house and I kept calling there but he was outside doing something and would not go in and pick up the phone. I was running out of time. I had to let him know where I was. I was desperate. I didn't get through to him, but someone got him a message because when I hung up the phone I saw this text message in red on a board above the phones from DH stating in so many words he knew where I was and that I hadn't just walked off and not told anyone. Don't know how he got the text message through but I felt better that he knew. I had been anxious to let him and my family know where I was. In this dream I was trying to find my uniform, the correct one I was supposed to wear. I remember walking around with no clothes in an attempt to find my uniform. Gosh I hated that part LOL. I needed a uniform, shoes, suspenders, stuff like that. And we were watched ALL the time.  And the guards who watched us were not very nice to us. We had to watch what we said or else.

Lots of other stuff in the dreams. Little filler stuff that I can remember but don't know how to put into words so I'll have to skip for now.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Women make up 50% of the US population but only 17% of Congress

In light of the upcoming elections I've been pondering something. Women make up an estimated 50.7% of this nation's population but their representation in Congress is a mere 17%. Why is that? Why are there not more women in the US Congress?  Surely there are qualified women in this country who can beat the incumbent males, no?

So the question is...why? Why aren't there more women? What prevents us from running for Congress?

Think about it, half the population of this country is terribly underrepresented in Congress--the people's seat! Now what are we going to do about it? 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Are you people idiots?

I've been complaining here about customer no-service for years. I'm quick to jump on companies that don't provide good customer service and I'm just as quick to praise those who do. For the most part, I haven't really had a problem with DIRECTV until recently, it took three emails to get them to fix my bill  (see post titled Consumers Deserve Better)  and just when I thought all was well, the little switch on the top of the remote, that moves from DTV to Audio1, Audio2 and TV stopped working.  Instead of clicking to the proper position, it just slides. The only thing I can control with that remote now is sound and powering the satellite on and off. Can't change channels or anything else.  I emailed DIRECTV immediately and told them what I stated above. This was their response:

Thanks for writing. You’ve been with us for years now and we recognize you as a valued and loyal customer. We want you to know we appreciate it. I am sorry to hear about the problems you have with your remote control.

If your remote control doesn’t work at all, performs some functions but not others or works only with devices other than your DIRECTV Receiver, it may be due to the following:

-Your remote has weak batteries.
-The batteries aren’t placed correctly.
-Something is blocking the sensor on the front of your devices.

For your convenience, I have listed the possible resolution for the problem with your remote control.

1. Make sure your TV is tuned to the proper channel, which is usually channel 3 or 4. Then press the button on the remote control marked DSS, SAT or DIRECTV and try the remote again. 

2. Make sure nothing is blocking the front of your DIRECTV® Receiver. 

3. Try operating your receiver by using the buttons on its front. If you can turn it on or off, change channels and bring up the menus, the problem is with your remote, not with the receiver. 

4. Put new batteries in your remote. You may need to reprogram your remote to operate other electronic devices. To avoid this, change the batteries one at a time.

If the problem persists, since you have the DIRECTV PROTECTION PLAN, the best way for you to get help as soon as possible is to call 1-888-667-7463 and choose the option to speak to a technical assistant. Our Technical Support agents are trained to walk you through a number of troubleshooting steps which are too difficult to try to talk through over email.

In addition, you may find some helpful information at the DIRECTV Technical Help forums. Just visit http://forums.directv.com/pe/index.jsp to find answers to your questions.

I hope you find this information helpful and thank you again for writing.


To which I replied:

Dear Jaemie L.


Did you not read my email? What is the point of the "Contact us" if you are not going to read it in the first place. I was very specific when I said "The button at the top of the remote which switches from DTV to AV1, AV2, and TV is not working properly. It just slides back and forth instead of clicking into the proper place. I would like a replacement ASAP."


Then I received another reply from Mary Z at DIRECTV which should have been the ORIGINAL reply:



Thanks for writing us back. I am sorry to hear if your remote control's mode switch is no longer working. I understand that you would like to get a replacement remote control. Since you have the DIRECTV PROTECTION PLAN, the best way for you to get help as soon as possible is to call 1-888-667-7463 and choose the option to speak to a technical assistant.

We appreciate your patience regarding this matter.

So...the question I have is WHY DIDN'T YOU JUST SAY THAT IN YOUR FIRST EMAIL? Was that so difficult? Why did they just waste my time and piss me off because they didn't read my email?  Now I have to call the pain in the asses.

Note to DIRECTV CEO Mike White, you might want to conduct some additional customer service training. Just sayin'...