Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Yesterday I told a friend his wife had made a cameo in my dream the night before but I only remembered a few flashes of images.  He, naturally, thought I was an odd cookie which sparked a discussion of how my vivid dream history could well be an indicator of my mental stability or lack there of.  In turn I was motivated to update the blog, a blog that was originally created to be a place to share my crazy dream memories that I have collected since I was a wee thing. Today's memory is less about any particular dream and more of my bizarre sleeping habits when I was a kid and how it relates to me as an adult.

I had a history of kicking off my blankets in the middle of the night.  I would start dreaming about being cold and can remember "feeling too tired" to wake up enough to pull the blankets up.  In my dream state I thought to myself if I could just curl up in a tight enough ball I could stay warm, so I would move up the bed and try to fit my entire body on top of my pillow.  This, naturally, did little to fix my issue, in fact it moved me further away from the warmth-giving bed coverings.  So, the obvious Plan B was to try to fit INSIDE the pillow case.  Inside.  With the pillow.  Imagine that for a moment, if you will.

Eventually I would get fed up with myself and wake up enough to get repositioned where I should be, all nice and tucked under the toasty covers, vowing to myself that next time I would just skip the crazy and go right to fixing-the-issue part.  Let me just say there is a reason this memory is so vivid and it's not because it only happened that one time...

As a grown, logical human being I am able to stay under the covers throughout the night, which is quite an accomplishment given how much I can be prone to thrash about as if in the throes of some horrific affair, but my nesting tendencies are strong.  I am happiest when it is cold and I can cocoon myself in a heaping pile of fleece blankets and my favorite outerwear includes an ankle length wool cloak that feels like wrapping up in pure heaven against the wind.

Now that I have the covers under control you'd think I could resolve the issue of trying to sleep through those urgent midnight Ladies room breaks, it's like boot camp for the bladder.  Same problem, VERY different dreams...

Come back soon and listen to the tale in which I buy a neon yellow rubber gun.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fall Down

It has been quite a while since I last wrote and I blame a number of causes for that.  Mostly I've been waiting for uplifting inspiration to strike, not wanting share an update of more "woe is me", because overall my life is great and that is what I really want to share here, but I'm trying to shake this suffocating depression that isn't leaving much room for anything else.

Every year when September hits, like clockwork, all I want to do is hunker down and hibernate.  I want to be home, anti social and wear PJs at all times.  This year, however, those desires are much more intense than I remember them. There is a deeply rooted sense of dread that turns my stomach and is sucking me dry.  Dread at the thought of what happens when Clif and I try again to have a baby.  Dread at the outcome of the election, how to get through the campaigning leading up to it and the impact the result will have on my beliefs versus my family's.  Dread at having to figure out a way to afford a replacement sliding glass door and desperately needed tree trimming, having a growing list of house and yard projects that will probably never get done, finding the mental and emotional strength to stand up to the rantings of completely unreasonable customers, getting through each day and still trying to find energy and motivation for chores and after-work activities that have all been suffering in the wake of my apathy.  Dread about finances, responsibilities, failures, eventualities...

I know the things that make me feel better: getting chores done, going to the gym or other physical activity, keeping up with tasks and expectations.  I also know where I've been failing: getting chores done, going to the gym or other physical activity, keeping up with tasks and expectations.

Part of me needs this; large, uninterrupted chunks of time where all I have to do is exist.  I love it to a very large extent, so telling me to suck it up, get out of the house and DO things is not as much help as you would expect.  If anything a lot of that doing comes back around to contributing to the problems and then I get stuck in this circular think-hole that only piles onto my anxieties.

An example of such a process:  I am feeling really down and I've been slacking so I should go to class tonight because I love it, the people I train with and it makes me feel better.  It is also expensive and equates to money that I really should be putting into savings instead, especially now that I have an increased financial responsibility.  Yes, but that can be said about everything money is spent on, and while some things can be cut out, where do I draw the line?  The logical answer is to draw the line where it needs to be drawn: don't spend a penny on anything that isn't absolutely necessary.  So I should expect to cut out every thing that I love and enjoy and save money but be unhappy having to give them up?  Or, do I continue to spend but feel miserable and guilty for not saving?  Then, when I'm nice and worked up about having no clue what decision to make I'll just keep paying the money for the things I love but keep skipping because the waves of depression keep me chained to the living room.  Soon every choice or opportunity to leave the house can be justified away by saying it saves time and money to only walk out the front door to go to work or if the house is on fire.

Is your head spinning?  Try a seat in mine.

My chest hurts more often than not and I'm tired of it.  Fed up and frustrated at myself for knowing better but not having the will power to do something to fix the situation.  This is usually the part where well-intentioned friends and loved ones offer advice on what to do or not do.  Don't get me wrong, advice can be great, but in this case it is largely more frustrating than helpful.  For the most part the advice offered isn't anything I don't already know and the re-hashing of it just makes me feel stupid and weak.  Sometimes all I want to do is feel angry, be allowed to feel down and vent about it.

Part of me needs to kick my own rear and get back to the activities I've been passing on because it makes me feel so much better when I do.  Part of me wants to force myself out of the house and to be more social, even though it wears me out.  Part of me wants to look through the budget and cut every single financial thing out of my life that does not equate to keeping a roof over our head and food on the table.  Part of me wishes I was in a mental and emotional place that would allow me to let someone else just tell me what to do, already, then hold my hand.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Moment of Solidarity

During my lunch hour I like to read through the archives of blogs like they are a chapter book, my most recent catch-up being with Alice Bradley's Finslippy.  Today I came across a post she wrote a year ago and was floored.  Mainly because I had just lived her story no more than two nights ago with Clif (minus the tweezing part)...

When I shave I do it hip to, and including, toe.  There, I've said it.  Whew!  That feels so much better!  Thing is until right this very moment I've lived in shame of the fact that my lower extremity shaving rituals include my feet.  Why I have felt this way I'm not entirely sure, though I suspect it might have something to do with a girl once looking at me in shock and horror asking me if and why I would do such a thing.  I immediately stuttered a red-faced denial and forever more steered clear of the topic (luckily it doesn't come up very often so I can be lax in my diligence), vowing never to admit my dark secret.

But here's the thing: why on earth is shaving ones toes such an astounding concept?  Is Frodobia a thing? 

Reading the comments on Alice's blog not only made me feel more comfortable about my own Hobbit feet, but showed me how many people I share that boat of shame with.  Stand, we, united in our desire to rid excess body hair, no matter how negligible!

I also adore the smell of Windex.

What about your dark little secrets?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Groove

It returns!  Today's Friday Groove is courtesy of a friend I met online through World of Warcraft.  Yes, I know there are all sorts of eyebrow raising things in that sentence, you'll just have to deal.  The characters in the game each have a distinctive dance and when I commented on one of the new styles reminding me of the Push Me Pull You dance from the original Dr. Doolittle, she said she thought it was actually inspired by this guy:

Are you prepared for awesome?  Are you sure??  Alrighty, carry on.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fur Kids

Growing up the closest thing I was allowed to have as a pet was a fish.  Now, not to rile the fish lovers out there, I, too, love fish but I have a harder time counting them as pets.  Yes, they must be fed and their environment prettified and cleaned, but that about covers the bases of their needed care.  Leaves little to be desired in the cuddle department, is what I'm saying, and darn it if I don't want pets that can be cuddled!

I believe the combination of my incredible love of nearly all members of the animal kingdom and the inability to own a furry creature of my own helped direct me towards my veterinary technician degree.  Mid-way through my 2-year program I scored an externship at Pender Veterinary Clinic.  If you haven't heard of Pender it's a pretty substantial place, full of lots of doctors and techs and a bazillion appointments per day.  It's busy.

One day one of the vets came back to the treatment room with the most beautiful cat I'd ever seen, I was drawn to her.  I drifted over to hold her while the vet tried to determine a course of action.  The reason for this stunning feline's visit?  The man who brought her in stated it was his ex-wife's cat and it was peeing on his 2-year-old's blanket.  While that might have been true I think her obvious lack of welcome-ness at living trapped in a back bedroom, away from the other house cats that she did not get along with, may have contributed to her displays of displeasure.  This man had not had such considerations, however, and wanted to put her down.

Did I mention Pender is busy?  The vet who was treating Fen (the cat's given name) spoke briefly with the head receptionist about getting her into the clinic's kitten adoption program.  As Fen was 1) overweight 2) peeing inappropriately and 3) not a kitten, the receptionist confirmed the adoption program would not be in her future.  It may have been my immediate magnetic attraction to Fen that colored my perspective, but it looked to me like the vet might have been starting to lean towards the man's wishes to put her down.  My heart shattered and I spoke up, at least three times (each with increasing volume) that I would take the cat and foster her myself.  An impressive offering considering I was still living with my sister in her no-pets-allowed home for another month.  I asked the owner if he could keep Fen for just a few more weeks so I could take her when I moved into my own place.

Right on schedule a month later I met him in the Pender parking lot where he all but thew the cat carrier into my car and sprayed gravel several feet high as he peeled out.  I looked at Fen and took her home wondering how on earth I'd begin trying to find her a forever place to stay.  Turns out that was the easy part.  She and I quickly fell head over heels in love and I realized I was at a position I my life where I didn't need anyone's permission to decide to keep her for myself.  Not long after we booted the F in her name and she became my Zen, in most senses of the word.

Zen was the beginning of a line of animals that would come and go from my life over the next few years.  Turns out I seemed to be good at fostering pets and became a transition for a lot of great animals.  The strangest thing, though, was how each time one came to me it was like they entered a vortex to crazy town!  Wherever I lived the animals I housed displayed quirks and behaviors that baffled me to no end.  Still, I loved all of my fur children, no matter how off the wall their crazy was.  Below are the ones who left the biggest paw prints:

Zen (female muted calico/Siamese mix, age: over 10, not completely sure)

Zen was free fed before she came to me and it was obvious.  Our first change was to establish feeding times, she got breakfast and dinner.  The morning she started crying and clawing at my door for breakfast at 4:30 in the morning, however, was the morning she scored herself dinner only.  She licks plastic hours before her dinner time as an indication that she's hungry because she knows it drives me absolutely insane.  She licks my thumbs and uses them to wash her face and curls up in a little fur ball right next to my ribs at night to sleep.  She'll spend hours napping in my lap but before she settles she walks around in tiny circles, all four of her tiny paws kneeding phantom biscuits right next to each other until my muscles are tender.  She purrs so loud I can feel it and even her meows can't interrupt them.  She issues forth mournful, pleading, skin chilling cries in the middle of the night that sound otherworldly and beyond creepy to announce she has found a slipper or sock and will carry it through the house to some unknown location where we will spend the majority of the next day searching for it.  She is special but she is my first baby.

Berko and Luna (male grey cockatiel, female pearl cockatiel, age: unknown)

I have no idea what possessed me to get birds other than I love birds.  Honestly, I don't even remember how I got Berko but I found Luna at a pet expo as a companion for him.  This proved to be my most brilliant and fatal plan.  Berko lost all interest in me but became Luna's champion.  Luna would perch at the top of the cage and any time I came by to chat with her Berko would run, hissing, from wherever he was in the cage to her defense.  The problem was in an effort to get between her and the "threat" he would inevitably end up shoving her off her perch to land in a heap on the cage bottom.  Luna got pretty familiar with the cage bottom on her own as she would like to hang upside down from her perch, wings spread wide and head swaying back and forth.  I don't know if she would get dizzy or just not have a good enough grip but she'd always end up in the same place.  She was very blonde (I'm allowed to say that, I was once blonde, too.).

Spud (male miniature pincher, age: 2 years; deceased, 5 lbs full grown)

The last clinic I worked at was in a strip shopping center and shared an internal wall with a pet store.  Because Fate can find torture amusing we treated all of their new puppies.  I managed to resist the wide-eyed charm of an incredible number of adorable creatures that I just wanted to gobble up.  Accomplishment!  Until one night I was taking out our trash at the exact time a new batch of puppies was coming off the truck next door.  The owner of the pet store stepped off the truck with a furry potato in his hand and I knew the little fella was meant for me.  I thought about it overnight and next day took home my new little man.  Spud was 1.6 lbs when I got him and fit in the palm of my hand.  He looked like a land strider from Star Wars.  He learned to fight from Zen, who ultimately wanted nothing to do with him, and therefore seemed to think he was a cat.  I fastened little black felt bat wings to his kitten harness when he outgrew the ferret sized one I started him in.  While itty bitty in size he was gargantuan in personality.  One time on a walk around the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms he ran right up to the mouth of the biggest bull mastiff I have ever seen.  That dog could have swallowed Spud like one might accidentally swallow a gnat but I think he knew Spud would make him regret it.  When he wasn't causing mayhem he would shimmy me like a monkey in a tree and settle for a nap in the crook between my neck and office chair.  Spud passed away suddenly when he was 2 years old on the one night I didn't come straight home after work.  I wasn't there and didn't get to say goodbye but I hope he knows how much I loved him and how much I miss him still.

Thayer (male, silver tabby-ish, age: roughly 4-5)

After Spud passed I thought Zen needed a friend, which is an incredibly funny thing to think.  If you know Zen you know she wishes she was an only child.  A friend of mine was sharing his adventures in searching for a cat at various shelters and rescue groups and out of some crazed curiosity I decided to check our local offerings.  There on a rescue website, full of special-need cats I knew I couldn't help, was a massive pair of leaf-green eyes staring up at me from the front of a cage.  They called him Thayer and was only a couple months old at the time and I was certain he was already spoken for (kittens get adopted so fast) but thought I would ask about him anyway.  I was shocked to find out I was the first to inquire and without a second thought said I couldn't wait to meet him and give him his forever home.  I arranged a meeting with his foster mom and we hit it off.  He was precious and "carried" (really tripped) over this gangly bright green stuffed monkey that was bigger than he was.  Thayer was too young to take with me yet but I signed all the paperwork and waited anxiously for him to grow a little bit more.  We now call him Monkey (short for Monkey Face), or Monks, much more often than we do Thayer.  He doesn't know he's a cat.  He steals the dog food and latches onto Kenya's face like an alien face-hugger.  Don't judge, they are in love.  He has almost zero sense of balance, falls over when standing still, runs into things like walls with his face and can jump like no other yet always manages to look surprised by his success.  One of our greatest entertainments is watching him collapse on the ground and attack himself on his back end, bite his hind feet and rabbit kick himself in the face.  Twice he has attacked himself so hard he screamed.  When he isn't being completely mental he sleeps in my lap and follows me around more than the dogs.

Teva (female, black lab, age: around 7-9-ish)

Clif and I hadn't been dating long when he told me he wanted a dog.  His desire for a yellow lab became the hunt for a black lab and before I knew it we were pouring through websites trying to find a perfect fit to our dynamic.  It would be his dog but since I was hoping for a long term relationship I wanted the chance to have a little input in the decision.  We found a listing that sounded perfect and ended up meeting Ms. Tootsie and her foster dad half way between DC and Richmond in a restaurant parking lot.  It was pretty much love at first sight so we transferred her meager belongings to our car and took her home.  The details are fuzzy but I'm pretty sure I had to work that day which meant I was absent for those first crucial bonding hours.  There were several weeks that I resented Teva (Ms. Tootsie had to go) and I'm sure she resented me.  I am convinced she viewed Clif as her mate and me as competition.  This broke my heart as all I wanted was to love and bond with her and she was not having it.  It took time but eventually we settled in.  She is our emo girl, inclined to sit in a corner and watch the world go by from under her eyebrows.  Just about the only time I can actually get her to come to me is if I'm holding cotton balls, she loves it when I clean her ears.  She is sweet and gentle, unless you are feeding her a treat, then make sure you check all your fingers are in tact.  She is a great cuddle buddy and my heart lifts when we let her off leash to run free on our trips to the country.  Her doggy smile is beyond infectious.

Kenya (female, German Shepard/Catahoula Hound mix, age: 4-5-ish)

Kenya was supposed to be a miniature pincher for me.  I came home one day to find Clif exploring listings of dogs up for adoption and asked him what on earth he was thinking.  He said he wanted to surprise me with another min pin, which at first I thought was crazy but Spud had been so great and I was so caught off guard I went along with the idea.  None of the pins that were available looked right for us so when asked what other breeds I like I said Rhodesian Ridgeback.  This somehow managed to lead us to Kenya's listing and let me tell you, Rhodesian she is not.  Before I could fully process what was happening we had an appointment to meet her.  The entire time we were there I kept trying to find a way to say I didn't want a second dog, especially another big dog, and why hadn't we really sat down to discuss this?  Clif loved her but all I could do was nod/shrug in confusion.  We left the foster home with a date for Kenya to come home.  For a week at least she would not. Sit. Still.  She was restless and wandering and I couldn't get her to just calm the heck down!  I am all about the chill, low maintenance animals and she was not fitting the bill.  I figured since she was supposed to be "my" dog I could decide that I didn't want her.  For 6 months I tried to find a new home for her until Clif told (yelled at) me in no uncertain terms that we were keeping the dog.  This is not a decision I was happy with at first but over time she settled.  Her desire to do anything and everything to please us at first was cumbersome and led to chaos, eventually it made her incredibly trainable and well-behaved.  She is the friendliest, most loving, most beautiful dog I've known and I can't wait to climb in bed at night and tell her "ok" so she'll leap up next to me and snuggle down along side me with her head resting on my shoulder.  She is so potently gassy she can clear a room in seconds.  She is sassy and sweet and wants so desperately to please, which she does ever so well.  At first I couldn't imagine life with her, now I can't imagine it without.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Secrets From a CSR

A friend and I found ourselves in an analytical discussion regarding the behavior of people seeking customer service help (really the nature of people in general these days) and how difficult it makes it to work with them and render the assistance needed.

We have come to the conclusion that we live in a place and time full of self-serving, entitled people with little to no concept of accountability while possessing the fine tuned skills to make any and every issue the fault of anyone but themselves.  Think about it for half a second and I can guarantee you'll come up with at least a dozen real-life examples of this without breaking a sweat.

Here's the thing, there's a reason we have such adages like not biting the hand that feeds you, catching more bees with honey than vinegar and treating others the way you would want to be treated.  Sound vaguely familiar?  Hopefully they nudge your common sense, too.

We all get angry and frustrated when things fall apart or don't go the way we expect, but when we all get angry and frustrated without any checks and balances then we leak on everyone around us and pretty soon we're in the emotional equivalent of The Happening and left trying to muck through mayhem.  Keep it in check, people, you'll get so much further.  The concept herein applies to pretty much every interaction that can occur between people, but I'm going to try to focus on just one of those today.

It almost seems like the norm: you just can't get good customer service any more.  In a lot of cases I believe that to be completely true.  I think good customer service is a dying art when it should be fostered and improved.  I also truly believe that there is great customer service out there that is dying because people think they need to be entitled, demanding jerks to get any help, thereby crushing the soul of representatives trying to do the best job they can.  And it works!  Admit it, any time someone is enough of a jerk about something they get exactly what they want, whether it is deserved or not.  And so we learn the only way to get anywhere with customer service is to berate them into submission.

Here comes the secret:  Chances are the kinder, more patient and understanding you are with someone who is trying to help you, the more you will gain as a result.  You wouldn't want to give someone extra consideration when they treat you poorly so why expect the same of anyone else?  Yes, it is the job of a customer service representative to take care of the customer, however, it is much easier to take care of a customer who isn't raging, belittling and generally making said representative put the most minimal amount of effort into satisfying your belligerence just enough to get you off the phone. 

While you may think you know that customer service means nothing more than push button menu options, automated assistance that isn't assistance at all and underpaid desk monkeys who don't know their head from their back end, at the end of the day you know nothing about the things that can be impacting someone's ability to do their best to help you.  Computers can be unreliable, messages can get lost, emails disappear into cyberspace and the person answering your phone call could be part of a team of a hundred people who have had the opportunity to drop a ball somewhere that is completely out of their hands.  That says nothing about that fact that unless you work for a company how can you know the reasons behind their policies and procedures which dictate the way they operate?

There are people out there who want to do more than cash a paycheck, they may genuinely want to do a great job and provide you with excellent service.  It would be SO much easier for them to do it if you didn't treat them horribly yet demand their gracious attention to your needs in return.

It is my hope that the next time you get too little sleep, have a rough day, are distracted by personal life concerns, experience a computer error, loose a document, make an honest mistake, encounter a policy change or are learning something new and so might not have a perfect grasp of your task that you remember we are all human and to extend the graceful courtesy to others that you would hope would be extended to you.  Challenge yourself to remember that people you encounter, in any capacity, can be coming from any of a million different places that you know nothing about.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


The saying goes, "Home is where the heart is."  If we take that concept at it's most broad and basic definition, and consider where our heart is to be wherever we are most aware of it full of love and joy in our chest, I'd say I'm blessed to be able to claim a multitude of homes.

To me Home is:

-The brick and mortar my husband and I stretched ourselves to buy where we could share our life.
-The brick and mortar my parents share their life in where I was raised.
-Singing my favorite songs, the ones I feel so much they make my chest ache.
-Clif's arms.
-Sitting on the screen porch of the family house in Lurray, watching the river drift by.
-Spending a weekend evening on the couch with a classic Disney movie marathon.
-Garden tomatoes and cucumbers on a hot summer day.
-The smell of rain late in the spring when summer days have started but there's still a cool breeze.
-Blissful submersion in water where I could swim for hours.
-Pedicures in the company of glorious girlfriends
-Our house after a day of cleaning when the lamps cast a warm glow and everything shines.
-Snuggling under a pile of blankets with a roaring fire in the fireplace and a mug of cocoa.
-Cooking brunch with Clif late on a Saturday morning.
-Sunday morning worship.
-Road trips with the windows rolled down and radio turned way up.
-Getting lost in the world of a great fantasy book.
-Sunset in the mountains.
-Sunrise at the beach.

What is Home for you?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

(Wednesday) Friday Groove

I know it's Wednesday but I'm going out of town for a long weekend trip so that makes it MY Friday!  My sister and I took this House dance class once, which was both amazing and baffling, and this was the song the teacher taught with.  It's the perfect blend of chill and funk, keeps you going but at a more relaxed pace.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


This past weekend I commiserated with one of my girls.  She was psyching herself up to spend some quality time with a very nice fella by joining him for a showing of Cabin in the Woods.  As a token of support I decided to read the spoiler online.  She came out of the weekend loving the movie.  I came out of it with nightmares of the walking dead and gore-spouting fish-head men.

It is not news to those that know me that I do not do scary.  Do. Not. Do. 

Growing up has done little to stem my irrational fears.  My intelligent, well-educated, logical brain can't hold a candle to my herd-of-frisky-wild-ponies imagination.  No amount of logic, reason and reality can overcome my sheer terror at the thought of most things portrayed in horror flicks.  Especially zombies.  Needless to say this little reality of mine brings no small amount of joy and entertainment to my friends and loved ones (*ahem* torturous husband of mine...) who thrill in trying to get me to watch these movies, insisting it's all fake and really, it's a great movie, I'll love it!  And so I have become proficient at insisting back that, no, really, thank you but I'll pass.  I SAID I'LL PASS!

Except I'm not entirely proficient.  I have this incredible curiosity and no amount of refusal to watch all things horror, knowing how it affects me, can save me from wondering what happens, and so I read the spoilers.  This, one might think, is a win win!  When you can't see and hear all the scary stuff then it really should be a cakewalk.  Famous last words!  For three nights after reading the spoiler for Cabin in the Woods I dreamed like it was my job about running from Things In The Woods and getting trapped in underground lairs of sacrificing.  The first night was so bad even multiple trips to the bathroom for a glass of water wasn't enough to break me out of the horror and I'd close my eyes only to be exactly where I'd been when I woke up.

Some of you are probably shaking your head in disbelief at any of a variety of components that make up my particular brand of crazy, but it's true.  Some examples:

1) Years ago I made a friend play Silent Hill so I could watch it to satisfy my curiosity.  After insisting to me that he had to hear the game at least a little bit so he could tell where bad things were I allowed the volume to be turned up to a whopping level 4.  He tried to insist it was really much easier to see the game if the light in the room wasn't as bright as the sun but he lost that battle.  For three months after that weekend I had dreams about Pyramid Head and would wake up in the morning thinking to myself if when I opened the bedroom door there was a pair of undead mannequin legs standing outside of it.  I hadn't found the gun yet (typical survival game challenge) and needed to run past it, snatch the car keys off the hook and sprint for the car.  Not kidding.  The mornings when the fog rolled in my 3rd story view of our empty condo pool was particularly disturbing.

2) Shaun of the Dead.  I adore Simon Pegg, his movies are awesome, unfortunately no amount of adoration and funny can overcome the amount of zombie in this one.  I have watched it in completion and count that as a feather in my cap, even though just the other day I had a blood rushing twinge of fear remembering the scene where he walks to the convenience store and you can see the zombies lumbering down the street in the not-so-distant background.  In case you forgot, that movie is 8 years old.  I'm just sayin'.

3)  I have never, ever seen Jaws, or any of it's reincarnations, and yet I am petrified of being in water I can't see through.  As a kid I could manage to get myself into a lake or river but when it came time to climb the dock ladder to get out I would do it so fast it was a miracle I never slipped and cracked my head on something.  I'd always have to take a minute standing on the dock to let my heart rate slow and the blood to drain back out of my face.  Let's not forget the water tubing and how I was the only person who would hand over hand pull myself to the back of the boat so I could step right from the tube onto the ladder.  Swim the distance between the two?  You must be joking.

4) Remember that Jason movie?  One of the originals, I think, the one where he breaks through the basement staircase and that one guy is a gonner?  That is one scene of maybe two I have ever seen of ANY of those movies and I saw it 15 years ago.  It was at my first job at a dog day care center.  I was at reception and it was on the tv in the adjacent office, I couldn't help stealing sneak peeks (that curiosity thing).  To this day sometimes when I come out of our basement I stand at the top of the stairs feeling not entirely unlike I did climbing out of the lake.  I never even notice that after the first step or two I practically sprint the rest of the way.  Sometimes my imagination kicks into overdrive and not only am I running up the stairs, I'm running up it sideways with my back against the wall so I can see where I'm going and what might be coming behind me.

5) When I was still somewhat newly old enough to be left home alone I was left home alone on a stormy night.  I hadn't watched anything scary but managed to let myself be convinced that the sound of acorns hitting the roof over the dinning room were traveling in a distinct direction and meant someone was walking on the roof.  My parents came home to me huddled in the rocking chair facing the front door and both entrances to the living room in terrified tears with every light in the house turned on.

Things I blame for my crazy:

1) Siblings insisting on playing hide and seek in the dark, stormy days were a bonus.  I was always It, no lights allowed. (love you guys!)

2) When I was 3 we went to Disney World.  20K Leagues Under the Sea was a pretty great ride until you got to that back corner of the tank where in the depths of the shadows you could see the red, glowing eyes and hints of tentacles of the giant squid.  I remember that squid like I saw it yesterday.

3) People seeking pleasure in trying to push my scare buttons.  Like that one time a particular someone (*ahem*) crept silently into the bathroom while I was taking a shower and when I opened the curtain I was so startled and scared I burst into tears and sobbed for a good 10 minutes.  (The movie Psycho plagues me now and then but I've never watched even a little bit of that one, either.)

What I'm trying to say is I'm sensitive.  No amount of lighthearted finger pointing, however, will change the fact that at the end of the day my inability to cope with the obviously fake and fictional is something bred in my own head that I've never been able to fully overcome. And maybe, just maybe, it's something that every so often I feed a tiny bit by pushing my own buttons, but I'll never admit it out loud.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Clif sometimes tells me he likes how I can take a complex concept and break it down in multiple ways so it's easy to digest for the masses.  I strive to offer several ways of looking at an idea so that the given audience can have the greatest chance of at least one of them making sense.  My most common habit is to use an everyday, mundane situation to explain more complicated ones.  For example, when teaching about shock in our CPR and first aid classes we discuss how signs and symptoms can include an initial flush to the skin, followed by skin pallor (pale).  A stimulus triggers shock, causes the heart to pump faster and move blood to the body core from the extremities and so to me the flushing of a toilet seems to be the perfect every day analogy to depict what happens to your body.  Imagine it: You flush the toilet, there is a rush of water in the bowl then it drains.  The skin flushes red as the heart rate increases and rushes your blood before it drains from your head.  Crude?  Yes.  A bit of a stretch?  Sure!  But it clicks at least a little bit, right?

Recently I've been pretty stressy.  Responsibilities in a variety of areas of my life have been feeling impossibly huge, heavy and I've been cracking under the weight.  A lot of it is work related, though certainly not all.  This causes Clif a bit of worry as he's not used to seeing me drag and wants the instant fix to be to remove the primary instigator completely.  The thing is, I love my job, just as I love all of the activities I participate in.  Even though they can run me ragged sometimes I care about them all too much to be willing to let any go.

In an effort to try to better understand my... let's call it "sensitivity" (i.e. an increasing number of days of pj-wearing, couch-surfing lethargy, inconsolable crying fits, mild depression and nearly 2+ solid months worth of upset stomach) I came up with a scenario for him to try to better understand:

Imagine a brand new sponge, right out of the packaging.  It's light weight, hard and can be hurled in any direction at all manner of objects without fear of pain or mess.  You hold it under the faucet and watch the water as it initially pools on the surface of the sponge before it starts to sloooowly seep in, spreading a little at a time towards the corners.  Once it's entirely wet it's heavy and absorbs liquid so much faster and easier.  The idea of throwing it around becomes highly undesirable.  But if you let it sit in the dish drainer for a while it dries out, rebuilds its initial resistance.

I'm a sponge.  A really, really wet one that hasn't had the chance to dry back out.  Things that may not have bothered me much before have been affecting me in tidal waves and I barely want to get off the couch much less throw myself anywhere or into anything. 

Knowing the cause of feeling this way is half the battle.  Knowing that in time it will get better is also a great source of hope.  In the meantime, though, it's been a bit tricky to balance the weight and keep cleaning up messes without the chance to sit a while in the dish drainer.

As I keep working through the place I am right now, using it as a time to try to find some personal growth and learn how to better deal with my stress and anxieties, I hope to be able to get back to spending more time off the couch than on.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Nostaglic BFFs

Three people crossed my mind last night and I wanted to share a little bit of them with you.

VA is the first friend I can remember making.  We met in Kindergarten at Tuckahoe Elementary School.  I think we had different teachers but somehow we managed to collide spectacularly.  When we were young we looked so much alike the adults in our lives seemed to have a hard time keeping us straight, always mistaking one for the other.

She didn't live very far away from me and I vaguely recall the first time being invited over to her house.  It was the first friend-invitation I can remember, period, and it thrilled me.  From then on we were two peas from a pod.  We shared our families as extensions of our own and spent many an afternoon, night and weekend at each others homes.  Our time was spent climbing trees, walking the neighborhood, making slurpee trips to 7-11, having sleepovers, playing with horses, pretending to ride horses, dallying at her ping pong or pool table, making scrumptious delicacies with some flat rocks and dandelion buds, and pinching each other when we got in epic arguments about stupid things.  No matter what the circumstances or how many other people we each met she was always my very best friend.

Years later VA lives in Boston, is brilliant and runs in marathons.  I live in Virginia, am busy and run in a manner that may appear to outsiders as if I am dying.  She is blue-eyed, blonde and pixie-like in her petiteness (I mean that in the most awesome way possible) while I am brown-eyed, a bottle-ginger and... curvy.  So, less like the twins we were when we met.

Even though our friendship now isn't the same as back then, alternating homes and acting out the intricate and dramatic lives of tiny plastic horses, I grew up loving her as a sister and will grow old loving her the same way.

N and I met at church when we were too young to sit still through Sunday school.  He and the two other boys in our class would inevitably stir up mischief that would capture my rapt attention, I'm sure much to our teacher's annoyance.  To me they were so cool, but N most of all.

We went separate ways for many years until one day he reappeared at youth group.  Those fond Sunday school memories came flooding back and though childhood friendships don't always transition as well to youth ones when there's many years of lack of exposure, I knew we'd be quick friends.

We were practically glued at the hip.

Often I was questioned if we were dating and had to correct people, saying no, we were just best friends.  Sometimes the follow-up question was why not and that was harder for me to answer.  See, N was who I consider to be my first love.  You know, the one that makes your stomach knot up, shoving your heart up into your throat and your skin tingles with perpetual goosebumps.  Or is that just me?  Figures.

Anyway, there was a lot of love.  A lot of friend love, a lot of one-sided more than friend love and I'm sorry for the discomfort that probably caused him, I couldn't help it (though I tried).  Eventually friends and family were able to help me see the doormat I had become in an effort to be Totally Awesome, thinking that is what it would take to prove myself worthy of more-than-friend.  In an attempt to stop feeling so strongly in what became an unhealthy way I wrote a poem for him and submitted it to our literary magazine with his name concealed as the title.  I don't know if he knew it was for him and it was a ridiculously high-school-girly thing to do but it was cathartic.  I still have that poem.  I came out of a deep and it scarred a little on the edges, but in the end I was and will forever be grateful for his friendship and the oodles and oodles of time we spent together that I'll always remember.

Like that one time he was going to drive me home and pretended to drive away and leave me in the parking lot so I threw my hand into his open sunroof and jumped into the window Dukes of Hazard style.  I think it surprised us both.

M was quiet, one of those guys who could hide right in front of your face.  I'd known of him in middle school, his name was familiar, but we never spoke until one fateful year after band camp (and yes, it is taking restraint to not start this story with "And one time...").

Band camp was hot and tiring and lunch was a welcome island of relaxation surrounded by seas of marching, drilling, more marching, correcting formations, sweating, drilling, more sweating and doing it again but BETTER!  One such lunch something in my brain flipped, unprovoked, and all of a sudden I noticed M.  Obviously I'd always noticed he was there, but I mean I started really paying attention to his solitude.  He kept to himself and sat a little way off from the pre-lunch crowd, sometimes with a book.  This intrigued me and I started making it a point to say hi to him.  Much like a dog who is denied its chewtoy I took this as an open invitation to Bark Louder.

Band camp ended and we returned to the Gates of the Under Worl... I mean, another glorious school year.   M's path never seemed to cross as closely as the confines of the doorway outside the camp cafeteria and the band room was a gathering place for barely controlled chaos, making further socialization attempts challenging at best.

My opening into M's armor came in the form of our 3rd quarter break during a home foot ball game.  After every half-time show we would be released until the clock counted down to the beginning of 4th where we could wander aimlessly in our band finery.  One night I noticed M hanging back, again alone, in the upper corner of the stands while everyone else shuffled to the food stand.  I snatched the opportunity and used the low ground to my advantage by strategically pinning him to the corner of the bleachers where he had no escape from my barrage of questioning about his favorite books, movies, hobbies and anything else I could think of.

M was support, and my partner in crime and my homecoming and prom date.  He would borrow his dad's Mazda and we would cruise along the canal with the top down and Bare Naked Ladies blasting as loud as we could stand it.  Once or twice we would (now pay attention, this is where I admit to naughty-doings fully knowing that my mother reads this blog.  Hi Mom!  Earmuffs, please!) skip a period or two at the end of a beautiful day to harness up and repel out of the tree in his back yard (hey, at least there was no diving from the train bridge into the canal, *ahemLauraandDonaldahem*).  Now every time I day dream of repelling it makes me think of M.

M became my very best friend that year and the memories of the amazing year that was for me, so much so because of him, I hope will forever be engrained on me.   I wonder if he ever knew how much he really meant to me, how much I cared about and appreciated him, our friendship.  I hardly realized how strongly I felt and if I didn't know it I can't believe he could have.  One day I hope he does.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

If I Had A Million Dollars

I'd buy you a green dress, but not a real green dress, that's cruel.

My ultimate dream list (at least the part of it I can think of now) in no particular order:

1) Pay off the house, consider a small expansion, reno the basement and toss in some upgrades
2) Invest in family, open to interpretation
3) Invest in landscaping.  Lots and LOTS of landscaping.  Did I mention the landscaping?
4) Finally go on our honeymoon, first class tickets to one of those tiki huts over the water in Bora Bora. Yes please!
5) Hot. Tub.
6) 4-door hatchback Yaris with a pearl paint job.  Don't judge.
7) Charities, charities, charities
8) Travel to Germany, Scotland, Ireland, Japan, Brazil, Canada, any and everywhere tropical.......
9) Start up a homestead with chickens and alpacas!
10) Become a Dive Master
11) Finish my two partially completed degrees
12) Invest and Save
13) Take cooking classes
14) In-ground trampoline.  Jealous?
15) Team up with Clif to build the physical Center for Wilderness Safety.  See also: start up a Homestead
16) Hire a personal trainer
17) Have a cabaret belly dance costume custom designed just for me

Huh.  I thought this list would be so much longer.  Perhaps you all could give me some ideas to add.  What would your list include?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Blog On: Pet Peeves

The lovely and ever-fabulous Maggie invited me to a blogging group on Facebook, an invitation I am very flattered for.  Today is my first go with a weekly topic idea that is presented each Sunday and luckily it's a no-brainer for me:

Disrespect. See also rudeness, selfishness, inability to be aware of a world of people also trying to live their lives just outside your personal bubble.

I feel so passionately about living a life that is aware of the multitude of lives trying to share one space that I couldn't possibly put all my thoughts down on the matter.  They are plentiful and emotional and significant.  What I will elaborate on is how distressing it is to fear the direction our collective societal train is heading.  It is easy and common place for people to shirk responsibilities with the reasoning that someone else will be along, eventually, to clean up behind them.  Be it literally (why clean the trash off of my table when I'm done eating, that's what this restaurant hires staff for) or otherwise (I'm going to do what I want regardless of how my decision may impact someone else) it is out of control.  Admission of mistakes and acknowledgement of wrongdoings are replaced by phrases like, "Oh well, not my problem" or "They'll get over it".

Respect is simple and can manifest in so many ways.  No thing is too small to deserve respect: time, belongings, emotions, differing opinions.  They all deserve far more effort and attention than we give them.

What may be even more maddening than the act of selfishness itself are the people who accept is as the norm.  "Well, that's just how things are now", or "Yes, it is sad but you just have to accept it".  We should never accept a blatant lack of respect as any kind of norm.  Being respectful and aware of everyone around you, whether they are a friend or relative or complete and total stranger that you may never see again we all deserve to be treated better.

I want to share a story that is a little bit of a stretch for this topic, but stay with me.  After several months of belonging to a photography-based hobby forum site I was invited to join a group of members on a day trip out of town.  Now, on this trip we made a snap decision to visit a second location for more photography goodness, a decision kindly considered ill-advised considering our lack of planning, the time of day and having way too many people try to enter at once.  Things happened (the whole story requires its own post) and we thought we had been caught (you see, access to this location was not exactly legal).  The majority of the group hit the ground running as fast as possible for our exit through a small hole in the fence.  As fast as possible is a speed that differs greatly person to person, hence my shock and amazement that one person from the group looked over his shoulder, saw my struggle to keep up and deliberately slowed his pace so he could keep stride with me.  So I wouldn't be alone.  This might not seem like a big deal but we were basically strangers before that day and had we truly been discovered by the law he would have been risking himself to stick with me.  You've got to admit it, that's not an action you see very often these days, especially when while participating in the hobby in question it is pretty much an unspoken rule that it's every man for himself and no one would blame you for looking out for Number One.  I will never forget his simple action and the impact it made on me.  In the midst of chaos, when he could have suffered for his decision, he altered his actions to look out for someone he hardly knew.

Now, wouldn't that be a nice norm?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

As Polar As Politics

In which we discuss things that have to do with girl parts and Big Choices.  Be ye warned.

The other night I got suckered into the first couple of minutes of One Born Every Minute, a show on TLC inspired by a teaching hospital about births.  Right there in the beginning of the episode was footage of a laboring mother who had no less than half a dozen faces shoved so close to her nether region I'm surprised the reason the baby wasn't coming more quickly was because there simply wasn't enough room to emerge.  A moment later during what must have been the height of her pain and already intense effort the educating doctor was forcing all of his weight between chest-compression hands (visualize CPR, one over the other), trying to force the child out.  It made me feel like I was watching a body builder squeeze a toothpaste tube as hard and fast as he could to go for a distance record and couldn't have been a better advertisement for having a home birth.

I shared the comment on Facebook in passing, just something I saw and felt like sharing the moment, never imagining the discussion that would commence.  Such is the importance of such discussions and sharing of experiences and opinions from both sides of the fence that I wanted to continue it here. Let me first address the very first question that was asked of me:  No, that post was not some backwoods way of sharing any exciting news.  Clif and I are not counting down to Then There Were Three.  Yet...

I turned 30 last month and for the first time experienced a birthday that brought me great anxiety, not because 30 is so old (it's not, I know) but because there were Things I wanted to have done by now, one of which has been tugging on my reproductive strings.  Clif and I have been talking about the big B-word and I've been less than silent about voicing my readiness to get on that bandwagon.  We still have some things to take care of first, but in the meantime I've had plenty of time to daydream and start thinking about those important decisions that will come along.  One of the biggest being hospital vs. home birth.

My exposure to different birthing methods has been both ample and limited.  Obviously I've never gone through the experience myself but I have lots of friends and family who have, especially in the last couple of years and have hit just about every check box on the list of ways to have your baby.  One family member planned for a natural birth in the hospital and ended up having two c-sections while another has had three children successfully at home (the last I was blessed to be present for).  Both (I feel) would say they had great experiences, even if they are on different sides of the fence, and have fabulous, healthy children. 

Part of why I analyze and discuss this topic now when I don't have a scheduled reason to is because it's a complicated decision to make with plenty of pluses and minuses on both sides.  It's stressful enough to think about without the influence of hormones and a deadline, I like to pretend I'm giving myself a head start.  And so I will share my current standing on the topic:

I am a fence rider.

One of my best friends had her first baby a year ago in the hospital.  Overall things seemed to go swimmingly for her and the family and getting to visit her gave me an impression of hospital births that I found quite appealing.  From my perspective it seemed to be a little bit of a smoother transition into life with a baby.  There were nurses and staff on hand to help provide care, infant transportation, and allow the chance for some stolen extra sleep for a night or two.  Again, purely my inexperienced interpretation.  The other benefit is well wishers can visit my hospital room where I won't have stress and anxiety about the presentability factor of my home should someone wish to visit.  At this point Clif would roll his eyes at me and tell me not to worry about how clean or not clean our house is but I'm simply not wired that way and the anxiety of it would case hives.  So, another check for hospital.

Another friend who had her baby around the same time, however, shared stories of having to fight with an inept nurse and is to this day still working on recovering some medical issues from her stay at the hospital.  Big deduction.  Another big deduction: a woman once asked on a birth advice board if there was such a thing as a "manual episiotomy" which initially caused confusion as there is no magic machine that performs the procedure.  Her clarification indicated that the "manual" part meant literally by hand.  As in two hands and ripping.  It's bad enough someone might want to come at me with sharp objects with intent to slice, but for a woman to express that such action NOT be taken and then to have her doctor override her decision not only by doing it but by doing it WITH HIS BARE (gloved) HANDS is terrifying.  HUGE deduction.  One of my biggest fears is laying out my expectations and what I would and would not want to happen during my birthing experience then have it all ignored or overruled, not being allowed to do what feels right for my body because someone says it should be done another way.  Labor and delivery is stressful enough, I wouldn't want to have to also fight for my choices.

My sister had three babies at home with the help of her husband, an aquadoula, an actual doula, a midwife and an assistant.  Her first daughter came in a posterior position (in other words face up and not helping) after 72 hours of labor and 5 hours of pushing.  If she had been in a hospital I'd keel over from shock if they didn't do whatever they could to get her into surgery.  She persisted and accomplished her goal.  Check for home birth!  On the other hand she persisted for 3 days without any medication.  Deduction!  I admit I would like to think I could handle that kind of pain but I have my fears and doubts.  With a home birth you're also left alone, just two new parents suddenly thrown into figuring out how to make it work.  An hour ago: no baby.  Now: baby!  And, go!  A little less transition time is what I'm thinking.  I guess there's also a part of me that feels if we try it at home and something goes wrong or I feel like I need more help the hospital is just down the road.  Perhaps based on ignorance but feel I it would be easier to get TO the hospital than OUT of it should the decision change before the point of no return or someone comes at me with their ripping hands.

I suppose what I've learned so far is that I have no idea what decision I'll end up making and won't know until it's made and even then nothing is carved in stone.  Based on stories, experiences and opinions the bottom line is good and bad can happen anywhere for any reason.  What works for some won't work for others and everyone has to make the decision that is best for them, regardless of what was better for someone else.  I do feel, however, that it is crucial to be able to talk about it!  Everyone who shares their story is providing one more piece of information that can help an uncertain expecting mother make a potentially intimidating decision.  That said I invite you all to share your stories, your research, your reasoning.  It's all valid and it's all important.