Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 31st again

This time last year we had cleaned up from Christmas celebrations with our friends.  Unfortunately we lost one friend to Leukemia.  The other friends that was with us last year is going to be stationed in Japan for a while.

We've gotten asked quite a few times what are plans are tonight.  The answer quite simply was that we have no plans.  No one invited us out.

And that's ok.

We have a new Blu Ray player (thanks to the Spousal Equivalent's mom),  and a new HD TV (Thanks to SE's dad and grandmother and my dad and his lady).  We have the rent for January paid.  We have groceries.

So life is pretty good.

I think we'll spend the next two days getting the living room looking like someone neat lives here, watch the ball drop, and toast with the sparkling blueberry juice that I received as a gift.

Maybe next week we can go and be among people again.

Today ends 2011, which was LOADS better than 2010 (and quite a deal better than 2009).  Tomorrow starts 2012, with new resolutions and goals.

Happy New Year everyone.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Obligatory Resolutions Post

(written on an iPod)

My resolutions are simple: be mindful of what I eat, move more, and get and keep the apartment in order.

1.) be mindful of what I eat- I need to be better about tracking my food, and eat less junk. This means I need to bring more healthy snacks to work.

2.) move more- use the wii every damn day!

3.) get and keep the apartment in order- I need to get into the habit of doing the FlyLady thing.

In all, not too bad!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas 2011 Redux!

It was all too much to keep up with while I was gone.  So here's the high points!

We left at 4:45 am, after an unsuccessful attempt to have pancakes.  It was 66 degrees in Newport News, Virginia.  After 10 hours, and $60 in gas we arrived at my mom's house in Syracuse, NY.  It was 34 degrees.  The Spousal Equivalent got the 50 cent tour as I drove to my childhood home.  After claiming that we were starving, we went to Twin Trees Too for pizza, wings and alcoholic drinks.

Saturday was rather quiet.  I cleaned out some things in my old room.  We went to Wegmans for a few things.  The highlight of the night was going to my Aunt and Uncle's house.  Christmas eve was traditionally done at my Grandmother's house (dad's side of the family).  After her passing a few years ago it moved to my Aunt's house.  We ate and drank and had one of those White Elephant gift exchanges.  (My grandfather for the William and Mary mug I bought, which made me happy).

After a breakfast of cocoa french toast (courtesy of my brother), we opened gifts.  Mom remembered that the SE wanted a fire and water proof safe, and that we desperately needed one of those above the toilet bathroom organizers.  Then we gathered the family up and went out to Cazenovia to my uncle's house.   (On the way we drove passed what used to be my Grandparent's house.)  My uncle and aunt (Mom's side of the family) hosted Christmas day for years, until my Aunt's death last year.  I'm glad that my uncle is continuing on the tradition.  With the exception of one cousin, the entire family was there.

After Christmas dinner, we went back to Syracuse, and back to my Aunt's house (where we were for Christmas Eve).  Now... let me give a brief description of my family.  My mom's side of the family is more... iced tea and saltines.  Dad's side is more beer and pretzels.  Our arrival was celebrated with shots.  We had dessert and my cousin mixed me up some very nice margaritas.  My dad and his partner were there.  We talked and drank for hours.  I actually have a new appreciation for my dad and her lady.  (I even discovered that my dad reminds me of Waldorf.)  It was a great time!

Monday we went to visit one of my oldest friends, Chelsey.  She has a wonderful house in Oswego, NY.  We chatted for a long while, for a tour of her place and went to Canale's for lunch.  

We realized that the weather up there was about to turn for the worse, so we made preparations to leave the next morning.  We went back to Wegmans so I could stock up on Dinosaur BBQ sauce and Gianelli sausage.  We then went out to Zebbs with one of my oldest friends.  She's had a rough few years, so it was WONDERFUL to see her.  We talked until 10.  I then didn't sleep that night.

Wednesday morning we took showers and packed the car.  I was working on an hour sleep.  I'm always emotional when I pack up to head home, so today I was doubly emotional.  I cried for the first hour of the trip.  I'm even tearing up writing about it.  (Can you tell I miss my family?)  But after 11 hours, $75 in gas and three stops, we made it home.  The dog slept from about 5 that night straight through until morning.

Today we took down the tree, set up the bathroom organizer.  (It was REALLY needed).  My stomach is unhappy after all the crap I put in it, so I'm munching on toast.  We don't go back to work until Tuesday, so we can take our time getting unpacked and getting the house back in order.  I also failed to replace my netbook cord, and failed to find Starbucks Christmas ornaments (It was a long shot, I know!)

It was a wonderful holiday.  I desperately miss my family... but next time I want to fly.  That drive is killer.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Post Holiday Hangover

I have 3 things:

1.) Holiday recap is coming.  I have it on paper and haven't had a chance to type it up yet.

2.) I've had NO sleep, and even though I just left my friends and family, I miss them desperately.  (I've said for years, if I could find work up there, I'd seriously consider moving back.)  I've been all weepy and crying all day.  It's given me a headache.

3.) After talking to some friends, I want to formally apologize to everyone that I frustrated by not listening to them and marrying my ex.  Apparently I needed to learn that lesson for myself, but I still need to apologize for making y'all watch the train wreck.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

As I sit here in my jeans

I think about the shows I love (many of them cancelled) and the fashion choices that I'd make for myself if I had money and weighed 30 pounds less and it leaves me wondering.  When did I get to be so frumpy?

We all know that if I had the waistline and money, I'd dress like Emma Pillsbury.  I'm very much like her, except not that OCD.

I find it funny that two of my favorite (and cancelled) shows are Cashmere Mafia and Lipstick Jungle.  These shows are about powers, strong well dressed women with great handbags!  That is so far from me that it's silly.  I'm not strong and powerful.  I'm a secretary for crying out load.

*sigh*  I'm going to enter some data.  Let the shows play in the background.  The Governor is closing the offices at 3.

I don't know how many times this needs to be addressed!

This nation isn't a Christian nation.  We weren't founded on Christian principles.

You know who else knows this?  Most 5th and 6th graders in the state of Virginia.

US History I.  Standard 5.  Part A.

The colonies were formed for 2 reasons: economic and religious.

That's right, the country was founded to a.) make money and b.) give people an opportunity to practice their religion without government interfering in it.

So, again I say:  Get your religion out of my government!!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I'm on a Tolkein kick today!!

So, after watching The Hobbit trailer a few times, and buying The Hobbit NookBook, I was inspired to do some research.  I have a year to create a good Lembas recipe.

I've found DOZENS of them online.

Now, according to example five:
"What Tolkien says about Lembas
  • They contain  honey
  • they are light-colored on the inside and light brown crust
  • they are thin and regular-shaped. This implies they were made on some kind of griddle iron. The closest modern equivalent is a Krumkake iron. I used a pizzelle iron

Some other things we can guess.
  • They contain the fruit and maybe the flower-water of the Mallorn tree. I substituted oranges, although kumquats or a hand of Buddha fruit might be better.
  • They probably had some kind of finely ground light-colored nut in them. I used almonds.
  • They contained some kind of nourishing flour. I used semolina flour, which is a more primitive flour, and also more nourishing.
  • Galadriel probably used some kind of grinder to refine the ingredients. I used a blender."
Part of me wants to combine the sensabilities of the above recipes.. with the granola goodness of this recipe.  Hey, when I think nourishing, I think granola!   Or oatmeal!

I need it to be next December now!!!

The Hobbit trailer was released yesterday.  Now, I adored the other three Lord of the Rings movies.  Like, saw them multiple times in the theater, adored.  I really hadn't read the LotR books before the movie.  I couldn't keep any of the characters separate in my brain.  Let's face it, LotR isn't an easy read.  After I saw Fellowship of the Ring I did sit down and read all three books.  They were slow and dense, but good.

Now, long before Peter Jackson made those first movies, my 11th grade English teacher placed a copy of The Hobbit on my desk.  (My friend and I were in an English class with idiots so the teacher tried to challenge us).  I read that book.  I even saw the cartoon.  Multiple times!

So, I saw the trailer!  Now, I'm going to re-read The Hobbit (I last read it in the 11th grade, you know), but here's my first impressions:

  • It looks like all the players are back from the first movies.  I wouldn't want it any other way!  Can you imagine anyone else playing Gandalf but Ian McKellen?
  • The visuals are identical to the earlier movies.  I bet the sets were like in storage.
  • I don't remember Galadriel..... but I'm willing to go with it.
  • I tell you this now: I'll probably forever mix up those damn dwarves!  There's 12 of them.  All with short, similar names!!  Though thankfully they all look different.  (which may help me in the end.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Glee Christmas: Redux

They are replaying last year's episode.  10 minutes in you can tell that it's vastly superior to this year's.

The episode reminds me why I loved Christmas so much as a kid.  It was a time of hope and possibility.  You'd write letters and wish for Santa to give you the toys you'd been wanting all year.

What would you ask Santa for?

Mine's easy.  Financial stability.  Or a 40 inch LCD tv.

Or one of those Pandora bracelets.

I hope that everyone gets what they want (or need) from Santa this year.

Three more days!

Christmas is right around the corner.  As is our 10ish hour drive.

Of course, I'm sick.  Because that makes everything that much more fun.


I'm at work, becuase I don't know if I'm contagious, or if it's more like food poisoning (but a mildmild case).

What I do know?  No Christmas Cookies today!!  And definitely no wine.

Which really sucks.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I love everything about Christmas... but....

Well, 2 things really.

1.) We don't have a lot of money.  It's a struggle most months to get everything paid.  We really didn't need to get the dog flea medication and myself the high blood pressure medication this week.  Well, we needed it, but it'll make things a tad tight.

And here I have friends saying that they got things for us.  Really, you shouldn't have.  Because I didn't.  Hell, my mom and brother are getting gifts after the holidays (when things go on sale and we have some money).  Now it gets awkward.  You giving us stuff.  Us keeping the dog from licking up your nose.  Yeah....

I know that someday I'll be able to buy everyone something.  I know that someday we won't have to chose between rent and my medication.

Though it won't be soon.  No raises again.  Thanks Governor.

2.) Eating.  My father gave me a basket of sweet things.  It was WONDERFUL.  Emphasis on the word was....

I've lost weight the last few weeks.  I firmly attribute this to not being able to afford snacks.  Did I need all of those truffles this weekend?  No.  Did I enjoy them?  Hell yes!!

We're off to visit the land of my birth this weekend.  I will over eat.  I will gain weight.  What am I doing after I get back?  Exercise.  Lots and Lots of exercise.

Merry Christmas everyone!

The weekend... it came and went...

I spent most of it getting ready for our holidays in the snowy north!  The car is clean, my toiletries are mostly packed.  Now to work on clothes.

We spent a rather low key weekend, the highlight was which was hooking the brand new Blu Ray player into our crappy TV.  I'm hoping that our tax return can get us a nice new TV this year.

The only down side of the entire weekend seem to be the itchiness I'm having.  I have red, itchy spots between the fingers of my right hand.  I don't know if it's Eczema or Ringworm.... but I'm leaning toward eczema, since the ringworm meds seem to not be working.  It's painful and itchy and completely unfun.

And now, back to work.  It's the end of the year paperwork.  Fun....

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Specials

You know them.  You love them!  They've been on TV (and now DVD and Blu Ray) since before you were born.  Unless, like me, you're old.

Here are my favorites:

  • Mikey's Christmas Carol: It's one of my favorite Christmas Carol adaptations.  And that's saying something, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol was pretty good!
  • A Muppet Family Christmas: They don't play it anymore.  I suspect it has something to do with the sale of the Muppets to Disney.  But between this and the Muppets tribute to Jim Henson.. It satisfies all my Muppet needs!
  • Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas: This is the first special I remember.  HBO played it every year in the 80's.  When I got older we got rid of HBO, and I didn't see the special again until I got the DVD.  
  • A Garfield Christmas: Another one of my favorites.  It's not Christmas unless I've seen it.  I found the DVD in Wal Mart last year and screamed for joy.  There were a lot of strange looks.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas: What else do I need to say?
  • 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: This was released the year I was born.  It's kitchy.  iI's Rakin/Bass, and hence has crappy animation.  But it's wonderful!
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas: The original.  It's one of my favorites.
What are your favorite Holiday Specials?

Is it Friday?

It's got to be Friday by now!

Well, I've had an interesting two days.

Yesterday I got to go back to the Chiropractor for the first time in months. I'd been having problems turning my head to the left (which is problematic for driving.).

So thanks to my generous father (Seriously, Dad, I can't thank you enough!) I went to get my head put back on straight.  Got a wonderful night's sleep after too!

Unfortunately the rest of Dad's birthday money went into my gas tank.

Today, I woke up with itchy, swollen eyes.  It's simply torture.  The only relief I ever get from this comes from massive doses of Benedryl and a cold eye mask.  I can't do that here at work though.

Here's to hoping that whatever is bothering me won't bother me at work!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

GleeCap: Glee Christmas

Now, Christmas specials give shows a chance to really push the suspension of disbelief.  Wow.... this one REALLY pushed it.

So we start with a tree trimming.  Rachel is pushy and greedy.  I can get that.  Then Artie gets a chance to direct their local PBS Christmas special.  What does he do?  Well... picture a classic 50's Christmas special, with Star Wars, cheerleaders, Bruce Springsteen and The Charlie Brown Christmas thrown in.

I was totally going with the kitchy black and white special.  But then Puck and Finn dressed as Han Solo and Luke Skywalker.  For no reason...  Then the Cheeriors, Tina and Mike bust in.  And to top it all off, Rory (in an awful elf outfit) reads the same Christmas story bible verses that Linus reads in the iconic special.  He even starts with the "lights please..."  (Personally, the "lights please" totally made it for me.)

In the end, they brought it back to this planet, and they kids gave to charity for Christmas.  But man, did we have to go through a lot to get there.

And for the record:  Artie, did you really have to bring up the Star Wars Christmas Special?  There's a reason it was only shown once....

Monday, December 12, 2011

I love Christmas movies... but...

I started watching Four Christmases the other day.  I didn't get very into it before I was compelled to turn the channel.  Within the first twenty minutes some cynical couples grilled Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn's charters about why they weren't married and why they didn't want kids.  Like it was an unthinkable thing that a couple would want to remain unmarried and that they *gasp* don't want children.

I don't know if the movie is good.  At that moment I became frustrated with it and turned the channel.

And as we all know, I love me some Christmas!  I especially love Christmas Movies and Christmas Specials!

What are your favorite Christmas movies?

Mine are:  Love Actually, The Holiday, and The Family Stone.

Next post:  Christmas Specials!

Some Weekends are like this.

Life can get busy.  It happens to the best of us.

since life had gotten busy, we decided to take this weekend to catch up.  6 loads of laundry and 3 loads of dishes later, we're pretty much caught up.

Some may say, how hard is it to do laundry?

I'll tell you!

We have an Apartment sized washing machine.  It plugs into the wall, and is connected to the kitchen sink.  When the machine is in the kitchen, there's approximately four inches of clearance on the side.  It's hardly enough to open the refrigerator with!

But we make due.  The rental of this unit is cheaper than the laundromat.

On tap for tonight?  Putting Mt. Laundry away!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Golden Rule

It seems like such a simple concept.  We all know it.  We're all taught it as children.  Unitarian Universalism has their own version, and it's a concept that I try to live by.  The first UU principle is that we all try to see the "The inherent worth and dignity of every person."

It's something that I try to live every day.  Shouldn't we all?

I need to share this.  This is the narrated portion of the third movement of "All Lifted Hearts."  Words by Kendyl Gibbons and music by Jason Shelton.

  • "In the Talmud of the Jewish tradition, the sage Hillel said: What is hateful to you, do not do to others. This is the whole of the Law; all the rest is commentary."
  • "In the Hindu legend of the Mahabharata, the divine Krishna declared: This is the sum of duty: Do nothing unto others which would cause you pain if done to you."
  • "In the Gospel of Matthew in the Christian scriptures, the messiah Jesus says:  Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.:
  • "In the Buddhist text of the Udanavarga, the student is urged: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful."
  • "In the Muslim Hadith of al Nawawi, the prophet Mohammed teaches: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself."
  • "In the T'ai Shang treatise of Taoism, the seeker is instructed: Regard your neighbor's gain as your gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss."
  • "In the ancient wisdom of Shinto there is a saying: The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there your own form."
  • "The Oglala Lakota spiritual leader Black Elk wrote: All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves."

If the major world religions follow this, why can't the people that are very vocal about following the major religions (fundamentalist Christians and Muslims) also follow this principle?

Maybe I'm just naive.

Comfort Movies

We all have them, admit it.  Those movies that you can watch whenever they come on cable and never get tired of.  Children have them.  Most parents I've talked to tell stories of Disney movies they can't stand anymore because their child practically wore out the DVD watching it so much.

Why do I have comfort movies?  Sometimes with the social anxiety watching a movie that I haven't seen gives me a panic attack.  Why?  Because I can see the character getting into trouble, or about to get into an awkward (but ultimately hilarious) situation.

I decided that I need to break down and buy some of my favorite movies: Julie & Julia, Under the Tuscan Sun, The American President, and Eat Prey Love.

I watch them when I catch them on cable, or when they are playing on Netflix Instant Play!

I know, I'm weird.  But I have Julie & Julia on the TV, brownies in the oven (I need to find the Hungry Girl brownie cheats) and Laundry drying.  Life is good.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The end of my birthday week!

With birthdays come gifts and coupons and other free things!

To recap:  My birthday started on Tuesday of this week, when the Spousal Equivalent and the BFF presented me with a 1st Generation Nook!  I squeed.  I nearly cried!  My birthday proper hit on Thursday.  The department got me a $50 Barnes and Noble gift card, and ordered me a cover for my Nook!  I've spend nearly all of the gift card already.

That evening I made Chicken Parm Grilled Cheese, and cake.  Seriously, it was the best birthday ever!

(Chicken Parm Grilled Cheese:  I cut up some chicken tenders to go inside the grilled cheese, swapped out Mozzarella cheese for American, and slathered tomato sauce on the inside of the sammie.  Best ever!!)

This morning we struck out to go shopping.  My mom send me $25.  $25 of it when into my gas tank.  A necessity.  After the gas station, our first stop of Bath and Body Works.  I had a 20% off coupon, plus I found a gift card.  That netted me a $2 thing of lip gloss.  Then off to World Market.  If you haven't signed up for their rewards, do so.  On your birthday they give you a $10 gift certificate.  Between that and the last $10 from my mom, I got myself a very cute new work bag.

Now, to have some cake and curl up with a new book!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The same thing happens every couple of months.

We get a notice on the door that we owe money to the Apartment Complex.  Nine times out of ten it's an error on their part.  That tenth time was money that got lost, and we scrambled to make it up.

On December 2nd, I went into the Apartment office, sat down and asked the man that worked there to total up everything we owed, and I'd write him a check.  He got out my lease so he could write down how much my rent was.  He checked with the water/trash/sewer people's invoice to see how much we were charged.  He looked to see if we were renting a washer/dryer.  His total matched mine, which was what I expected.

So cue my frustration to the note on my door yesterday.  We seemed to owe $65.  I kicked things for a few minutes before marching over there.  I calmly explained that on the 2nd I sat down with someone on the staff and he looked everything up before giving me a total.  How could I owe more?

As I thought, it was a computer error.  Again.  We get a $40 discount on our rent.  It was a holdover from when we originally signed the lease.  The computer forgot that, then added on late fees.

We've had this issue ever since moving in.  It's so incredibly frustrating!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

You say it's your birthday!!!

Well, today is my birthday!!

So far it's been a great day.  The department got me a $50 Barnes and Noble card to go with the 1st Generation nook that the Spousal Equivalent and the BFF got me!  (I love them!!!!!)

Work has been slow, which gave me plenty of time to get books on the new Nook.

And soon I'll head home, and see if I can buy eggs to make myself a cake.

It's my birthday.  I'm giving myself permission not to feel bad if I don't lose this week's pound.

In other news: I know, I'm trying to lose weight.  I know that losing a pound a week doesn't seem like much, especially since the Biggest Loser folks are going down 20 a week.  But for me, it's enough.  If I'm acting like I'm on a diet, I'll start looking for ice cream.  Instead I'm going to eat sensibly, exercise and strive to drop one pound a week.

Yeah, it'll take me a year to hit my goal.  It'll be next year's birthday present.

That, and new pants.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

GleeCap: Hold Onto Sixteen

It's finally sectionals at Glee!

My thoughts, in bullets

  • I'm glad that there were 12 members per team.
  • The Unitards.... great solo, but that's all it was.
  • I agree with New Directions win, based on ABC alone.  It was awesome!!
  • I'm unsure about Quinn's change of heart, but since multiple people have verbally given her a smack with the "clue-by-four," it's been a long time coming.
  • I'm glad that they only have 1 glee club now, but does that mean Shelby's out of a job?
Christmas next week!

Monday, December 5, 2011

You'd think I'd learn this by now...

... or, Another Case of the Mondays

This morning started with me oversleeping.  There's a mold problem in the bedroom (we're thinking that's leftover from last year's mold problem), and I'm highly allergic to mold.  So every night I drug myself up with Benedryl.  But if I wake up and have to take my inhaler, I'll be up for another hour or so.  That's why I was up from two to almost four this morning.

So on top of being late, I experimented with breakfast.  It failed, and left me without oatmeal.  No problem, I said to myself, I'll just have coffee and take my pills.

You'd think that after the five other times I tried this I would have learned.  If I take the fistful of morning pills (Omega-3, vitamin, allergy pill, birth control and a blood pressure pill) with just coffee it makes be nauseous.  This morning I was nauseous times 10 and actually was sick.  Making me late for work.

I need to learn from my mistakes!!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sieves catch more than my memory at times!

Yesterday I had a heart to heart with my Spousal Equivalent.  My amazingly bad memory is at the heart of some small issues that keep cropping up.  Seriously.. I wish I had a better memory, but it's rather scary how bad it is.  The SE says I'm all RAM and no hard drive.  It's so true!  How is it that I know all the words to all the songs from every musical  was in.... but I can't remember what day of the week it is?

But in the good news department:  We went grocery shopping and kept it under $50.  Shopping lists are wonderful things!  I have dinners for a week, makings for Birthday cake and a new tree skirt.

Next up, decking our halls!

Friday, December 2, 2011

We all knew it was going to happen sometime..

The sun rose and a new day started.  Yes, I know that it happens every day, but after crying yourself to sleep it still seems like a great feat.

I broke the news to my family that I can't afford Christmas presents, and had to ask for my Christmas money in advance.  That hurt so very much.  I'll be seeing them for the holiday, so that will have to be my gift.  (Though, it hurts.. because I had JUST figured out what to get everyone too!)

I'm not going to be able to afford at $25 small tree, so we're going to dig the big tree out of storage.  It's true, I didn't need a new Christmas tree, because I have a mostly working one already.  It would have been nice.  And it would have saved us from having to re-arrange the living room.  It's ok.  We needed to clean anyways.

We'll make it through.  This weekend we'll make a shopping list, and take an inventory of what we already have.

I think all of this hit me so hard because it plays into my fear of losing my apartment and becoming homeless.

But now I move on.  Tomorrow is another day, and there is enough in my account to pay the rent now.

The cool new Christmas shirts I wanted will have to wait.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I have this love/hate relationship with December

So, my birthday is in a week.  Christmas is a few weeks after that.  What does that mean?  Money.  This time of year always is a huge money suck.

Things happen, and money gets tight.  What happens?  Well in order to make rent this month we had to cancel my birthday celebration, scrap plans to get the $25 Christmas tree and I'm unable to buy Christmas presents this year.

We're hoping to have enough money to get a cake.  I think we can swing it.

But for now, I'm going to go to bed.

51 Weeks Older

In exactly 1 week I'll be 37 years old.

This still seems very strange.  I did the college thing, got married, got a career.

Then in 2009 I lost the marriage and the career.  In essence I'm 25 again, just starting out in life.  I have a new career, and a new relationship.

I may not like the magnitude of the number, but I love my birthday.  It means Christmas is closer!  Unfortunately, with the exception of drinks out with a few friends, I have nothing planned.

Maybe I'll get myself a Christmas tree in honor of my birthday.....

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The "War on Christmas"

Did you hear my eyes roll?  Because they did.

This whole "war on Christmas" nonsense is simply ridiculous.  I mean, I got reprimanded for saying "Merry Christmas" when I worked at Noodle Kidoodle... but since the company was owned by a bunch of Jewish guys... I can understand why they want "Happy Holidays" used.

Now, let me preface this with:  Christmas is my FAVORITE holiday.  Seriously.  I decorate that tree.  I wear the gaudy Christmas sweaters.  I play Christmas tunes in my office.  I love the holiday.

But I do not celebrate the Jesus being born part of it.  I celebrate the "peace on earth, good will to men (mankind)"  part.

Why?  Because Jesus wasn't born during the winter.  in the whole birth story, there are shepherds out with the flocks.  That only happens during lambing season, in the spring.  Plus the Romans celebrated Saturnalia during that time. There wouldn't be a census during a 2 week party!  I have heard it suggested (and I'm inclined to believe it) that early Christians put their holidays on the dates that already had similar celebrations.  The Winter Solstice is around that time, and the whole birth after a time of darkness fits.  I've even heard that Jesus/Mithras thing.  All very interesting.

Can you celebrate the holiday without an ounce of religion?  Absolutely.  People have been doing it for years.  We use it as a time to visit with the family, to celebrate tradition.  Ending the year on a happy note and all that jazz.

There is no "war on Christmas."  People just don't want to have to celebrate the religious part of it.  There's no harm in it.  If you want to celebrate the religious part, knock yourself out.  I'll be respectful of you.  Just be respectful of people that do not share your religious beliefs.

And when I say "Merry Christmas," I happen to mean:  "Happy time of peace, family, and festivities."

Just testing

I'm using something new as a blog feed.. just testing!

GleeCap: I Kissed a Girl

Ok.... Last night's show was a perfect time for people's entire personoality to be summed up in one sentence.  For example:  Puck...  talking about Quinn:
"Look, I was into you a couple years ago because you were hot like a pixie and I thought you were pretty much cooler than every other girl in the school, but it turns out you're kind of nuts. You're higher maintenance than Berry and pretty much the most selfish person I ever met in my life. So, thanks for the offer but I'd rather raw-dog a beehive."
Brilliant if you as me.  So let me break it down:  Santana is very out, her grandmother is less than pleased.  The clubs try to make her feel better (they should have done that to Quinn... post baby).  Puck seems to be over Shelby.  Shelby's still hung up on Puck (this will end badly).  Kurt's dad won.  Kurt lost, even with Rachael stuffing the ballot box.  Rachel's in deep Kim Chi... and out of Sectionals.

Now, neither of these clubs have the prerequisite 12 members... but that fact was forgotten.  Unless it'll be a plot point for later.

I'm just wondering what sectionals will hold... and how fast Quinn and Shelby crash and burn.

They say the perfect dog is one that doesn't poop...

Not exactly, but that's how the joke went.

Apparently I have the prefect dog.  Or close to it.  Every so often Misty goes through a little bout of irregularity.  She's not every lethargic, or shaking.  She just.. tries awfully hard to go.  Last year this culminated in her bleeding from her butt, so you can understand my concern (One vet said it might be the bone the little rascal ate, the other one said straining.  I'm not taking any chances).

So now to find the puppy Metamucil, and start Poop Watch: 2011!

I know, it's all gross and weird, but she's my baby.  I love her!  I don't know what I would do if my sausage shaped lump wasn't under the sheets at night... or curled up on my lap (when I'm trying to do something on my lap..)

Monday, November 28, 2011

I'm thinking that I need to send this to Ellen...

Dear Ellen,

I must say, I love your show.  I record it every day, and watch it the following morning as I get ready for work.  The day before Thanksgiving this year I sat down to catch up on some episodes of your program.  The dog and I were all cuddled on the sofa, and the Spousal Equivalent was in the computer room.... doing whatever SE's do.

I watched the story of the Johnson family.  It brought me to tears.  In fact, most of the stories of the families that you help leave me a sobbing teary mess.  The dog tried to lick the tears away, and bark at me (to get me to stop crying and pet her).  The Spousal Equivalent came out from the computer room to see what was making me cry.  He simply laughed and shook his head after hearing the story.  (I have a history of crying at the Christmas Folgers commercials too.)

Why did it leave me a sobbing teary mess?  Because I have a similar story.  I had a home foreclosed, a marriage end, unemployment benefits that were exhausted.  I lived paycheck to paycheck, praying that this temp job or begging and borrowing would help me make the rent, or pay for a doctor.

Thank you for giving us hope.  I found my job and am slowly clawing my way back from debt.  I still have an irrational fear of not being able to afford the rent, but that hasn't happened yet.

Thank you for making us all laugh, and for sharing the inspirational stories that move me to tears.  And thank you for the hope.

The Nerdy Secretary

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I can FINALLY decorate!!!!

Thanksgiving has officially passed us by. This means that I'm officially allowed to decorate.

Unfortunately, I need to clean first.

We live in a small apartment. There's really no place TO put a tree anymore, except for the entry-way table. Which is covered with stuff.

My plan is to spend the next week doing wash, putting it away, cleaning off the tables, cleaning the kitchen. Once that's done we're going to go buy a 3 or 4 foot pre-lit tree and a cheap Christmas themed table cloth for the entry-way table.

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I intend to celebrate it to the fullest!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Leftovers

I haz them!

It was an interesting week.

My vacation started on Wednesday. I went to the DMV (record time in and out), then to Bella Cakes to redeem a Groupon. While there, I was a taste tester for Raspberry Strudel cupcakes. Yummy!

Thursday found us eating at House Awesome. I think I ate a record small amount of T-Day dinner. We then went home, and looked at the Black Friday sales. A kind soul bought the Harry Potter set for us while she was there.

Today was really low key. I'm watching the Glee Project. I sent the Spousal Equivalent out for pizza. We're going to a "Turkey Day Leftover Party" tomorrow... where I'll eat my leftovers. I don't want to eat them now!

Tonight there's a slew of chick flicks on cable. Tomorrow laundry, groceries and a party and Sunday meeting a friend and getting ready to get back to work.

So.... some things can't be substituted....

We're out of dishwashing detergent, so the brilliant Spousal Equivalent says: "Just use the stuff we use in the sink. It's the same stuff."

Oh, how he was wrong. So I put a bit in the dispenser and started it.

A few minutes later I go to make coffee, and there are soap suds coming out of the bottom of the dishwasher. I clean it up, and put the oatmeal on to cook.

Then the SE goes into the kitchen, and informs me not to panic. The small spill of suds now extends across the width of the kitchen.

The dog tried to clean stuff up too. *facepalm* I had to shoo her away from licking up the suds.

Happy Black Friday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

T-1 Day to Turkey Day!!

As is the tradition around here, we're heading to the BFF's house (a.k.a House Awesome) for Turkey Day. Around here, there are a lot of people with no close families, so she takes us all in.

She's supplying the turkey, green beans and pies. I'm bringing the ham and roasted carrots with thyme. (I'm making garlic-thyme infused oil for this... going a bit overboard). I'm hoping that there's rolls and potatoes. Then I'll be in heaven!

And that evening is Punkin Chunkin. If I had a bottle of wine to go with the festivities, life would be perfect.

Now, off to finish lunch, and do some dishes!

"If you wanted to work, you could easily find a job..."

I hate hearing that. Because it's not true.

Here's my stats. I found out in March of 2009 that I was no longer going to be a teacher. From that moment on, I applied for 5 jobs a week for the first 3 months. For the next year and a half I applied to anywhere from 20 to 200 jobs a week (as the time went on, the numbers went up).

I worked three temporary jobs between June 2009 and January 2011.

I signed up with 6 employment agencies.

I had a dozen interviews in that time.

I exhausted my employment benefits, had my house foreclosed on and had to borrow money from my parents to go to a doctor.

But, according to some, if I really wanted to work, I could have found work easily.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's almost time!!!!!!!!!!!

Christmas is my FAVORITE time of the year! I put up my tree just after Thanksgiving. I have DVD copies of all of my favorite specials and spend quiet weekend nights watching them. Unfortunately I'm a bit thin on the Christmas apparel.. but I'm working on it.

So, now a poll! Well... 2.

What is your favorite Christmas movie/TV Special?

I have many: How can you not love The Grinch? It's one of my favorites. I think I have the words memorized by now. Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas has been a favorite of mine since I was very small. And you can't ever go wrong with the Garfield Christmas.

What is your favorite Christmas Song?

Mine's a toss up between the Coventry Carol:
(Don't know the group... it was the nicest I found)

And The Holly and the Ivy:
(Might as well stay with the same group for constancy)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ok.. so it wasn't THAT bad...

I weighed myself, and only went up 0.2 pounds. I'm rather proud of that!

My current goal is to lose a pound a week. It's simple, not extreme, and attainable. It also means I have a year (give or take) to lost the 32 pounds. My goal is 130.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

All-American Muslims vs. All-American Bigots

Some families from the show All-American Muslims were on the Anderson today. It was 2 families from the show vs. this lady that believes that Islam will destroy the country! *insert mock horror.*

The show had me yelling at my television.

Let me give you some background. I HATE to characterize an entire religion on the stupidity of a few. I also will lose respect for someone if they are incredibly close-minded, especially about religion. I have someone that I can no longer respect because she proclaimed to me: "I've lived in Muslim countries. The whole being a religion of peace is crap. All they want is to kill Americans."

People say that Islam wants to convert the Infadel. Did we forget the Crusades and the Inquisition? Christianity did that too?

And for all of those people that say that all Islamic people want Shiira Law. Um.... We're more likely to live under Christian law first... especially if most of the Republicans win the 2012 race.

So.... to sum up: ALL religions have their idiots that read WAY too much into an ancient text. Let's not base our reactions on the actions of a few.

Furry Love

I wasn't a pet owner until a few years ago. Now I have 2 fuzz butts running around my house: Misty (the wiener dog) and Meryl (a cat).

And man, now I know why people want pets. I come home from work, tired and hungry, and there's Misty, sitting on the back of the sofa. She barks happily and wags her tail so hard that I'm sure she's going to wag herself off of the couch! Meryl is sneakier. She gets you when you're in the bathroom and trapped. She winds herself around my legs, almost begging me to pet her.

It doesn't matter what is going on, or how bad I feel, when Misty is curled up on my lap life is pretty good.

*sighs* 1 step forward and 4 steps back

*sigh* I put on my bra today, and it was tight.

This means that either I've gained a lot of weight, or I'm still having some breathing problems.. or the bra shrank a bit in the wash.

I think something is clear: I really benefited from Weight Watchers.

The problem? It's $40 a month that I don't have. Yes, I'll get $20 of it back from time to time... but still. That's an expense I don't know if I can cover.

Time to gather some motivation.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

GleeCap: Mash Off

We learned some important information during last night's episode:
  • I don't know who pissed off the wardrobe people... but man... they put Kurt in some weird stuff.
  • Quinn is headed for a severe meltdown. She bases her self worth on all of these external factors: Her Cheerleader status, her relationships, Prom Queen, and now being a mother. She's going to frame an innocent mother just to get her baby back. And I honestly don't think she wants to be a mother. I think that Quinn has decided that's what she needs to be happy. But we all know that it won't make her happy.
  • Puck. *sigh* We all saw it coming. It's going to be disastrous.
  • Santana. Honestly, this was a long time coming. Seriously, why did you try to one-up the person that knows your big bad secret. (Well, it's one of the worst kept secrets ever... but we all knew that.) She let the verbal barrage fly so hard that all he was left with was exposing her poorly kept secret. And as much as I disagree with publicly outing someone... he was right. And those words needed to be said.
Now..... with New Directions and the Troubletones competing at sectionals.... did the rule about having a dozen members get forgotten?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Penn State

The other day, I posted this to facebook:

"Dear Penn State: It's just football"

And was AMAZED that I got the responses I did. I meant it to be in response to the rioting by the student body. I couldn't fathom why a football coach getting fired would cause a riot! I was politely told that people don't know all the facts about the case and they aren't passing judgement.

Um.... wait a minute. If this was a PE teacher in an high school, the same actions would have been taken. But there wouldn't have been a riot. There are some facts in the case that are clear:
  • 8 young men came forward to accuse Sandusky of sexual abuse. It's credible enough that a grand jury was convened.
  • This happened over a period of years.
  • Paterno (Whom as an educator is a mandatory reporter) reported this to his superior
  • The superiors did nothing.
The college, when the severity of this came out, decided to clean house and get rid of everyone involved. I have a feeling that if this happened in a High School the same would happen.

It sucks, but it happened.

And all that the Penn State folks can think of is how AWFUL it is that they lost a coach.

*blink* Not that the alleged abuse is awful. Not that these young men's lives were forever changed by this. No. just that their football team is tarnished.

Again I say: It's just football. Football is NEVER a reason to riot.

Here's something to chew on: What if the victims were girls? (you should read this one too) After what happened in Texas, and what is prevalent in the media I don't think we'd be singing the same tune. Women are often blamed for rape. They were dressed like they were "asking for it." I mean... if the 11 year old that was allegedly gang raped in Texas is being blamed for this (She acted "older." Older? She was 11!!) what to stop others from blaming the victim?

But I digress.

To sum up. Things are looking not great for Sandusky. Penn State cleaned house of the people that did what they should have done and not a bit more. And students cared more about football than sexual abuse victims and rioted.

How sad.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Black Friday

People that work in retail shudder at the mention of it. Bargain hunters love it.

Black Friday!

Now, I know that people hate it. Find it immoral, or unethical or whatever. Most years I try to avoid it. But our old bulky TV is about to die... and if I can get a new one for under $300, I'll risk it! (I know.. we're supposed to buy local... but this sadly is too big ticket of an item).

I've done a few Black Friday sales. In 2005, I stood in a long line to buy a $500 computer. It was orderly. Just tiring and boring. The next year I was sent to Wal Mart to buy sheets. I stood next to the covered display with a dozen women. And we made a plan. We discussed what we were looking for, and planned to toss those items in the appropriate direction. Unfortunately some people muscled in and took most of them. I was pissed.

Years later I needed an external hard drive, so a friend and I went to Target to stand outside in the rain. She got toys for her daughter, I picked up the hard drive.

This year I need to look at the sales... and talk things over with the parental units. Maybe Christmas can come early this year?

Hey, a month early... but saving $200 might be worth it!

Why am I the only one that gets this way??

I'm not a marathon runner, or anything. But I'm decently in shape. But something has kicked my ass, but good! It's allergies.. but I don't know what to!

I've always had issues with allergies but most of them went away after moving to Virginia. Well, five years in, the allergies are back with a vengeance. I've already sucked one inhaler dry, and am working on inhaler #2. I get winded walking up stairs and I don't have the energy to take the dog out.

And I should be exercising. Well, after I'm drugged up with benedryl, and listening to myself wheeze, it's not overly fun.

I'm also now left in a catch 22. The house needs to be cleaned thoroughly. BUT... the process of cleaning, and the dust that's kicked up will make the allergies worse!


My plan now is to dust as best I can, have the Spousal Equivalent vacuum, and hope we get enough Christmas money for an air purifier for the living room.

What a WONDERFUL way to start a Monday

Watch it. I'll wait.

Seriously... how awesome does that look?!?!

I've talked to people about the books. Some don't understand it. Some think it's too violent for teenagers to read. Some think it's too far fetched.

I say it's not only possible, it's almost probable. Think about shows like Survivor. Think about the political unrest that we have. The horror of the book isn't the violence. It's the fact that I can see it happening.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Allergies suck, part 2

So my intentions of having a healthy meal tonight have failed...

But it was the best meal ever!

Picture this: On the cookie sheet: an Italian sausage and fries. I sliced the sausage, seasoned the fries and sprinkled a little cheese over the both of them (Italian blend for the sausage, taco blend for the fries.

I want to make it for dinner again, except maybe adding some veggies to the cookie sheet. The easiest meal evah!

In other news, Apparently December 16th has been dubbed "Meari-Mas" by the Spousal Equivalent. I do not know what festivities will happen, but I hope I'll be having fun!!!

Allergies suck

I have spent the better part of the last week in, and out of, asthma attacks. This puts a crimp in many plans. I can't work out much. I can't clean (nor an I let the house get dirty... I know...). I've been living drugged up on benedryl, so I want to do is sleep.

But in the good news department, I have a week's worth of meals planned. And those meals are mostly healthy.

My goal for the week: work out a bit every day, do a load of laundry every day and try to find a place for everything.

But now, time to make some supper and medicate.

Stupid allergies.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank god it's Friday


Yesterday a perfect storm of anxiety hit, leaving me a teary mess.
  • I noticed the MOUNTAIN of laundry
  • My boss was diagnosed with cancer... and I might have to do her job for quite some time
  • Did I mention that I'm not a fan of being in charge? Which, with the boss out, I'd be.
  • New, very tough song in choir
  • Other drama going on in church (it's a long story... but I'll sum it up with: I'm not a role model or a spokesperson!)
  • I'm not even touching the stuff I'm teaching in the Our Whole Lives class this weekend. It made ME blush! And that takes effort! (Metaphorically, I'm paler than pale, so I blush if you look at me)
  • Something is growing, or molding, or something, because I've been wheezy, sneezy and itchy for two weeks now. Four more symptoms and I can become Snow White's new dwarves.
Now, I fully understand that 99% of my anxiety is me overreacting to situations. I always jump to the worst conclusion and give myself panic attacks.

I think that I'm going to spend Friday night and all day Saturday getting my laundry done, cleaning a little, and trying to relax and not think about work or any of my other stressors.

I believe there may be Ice Cream involved!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

GleeCap: First Time

Let me separate this into two parts: West Side Story, and Sex.

West Side Story:

I happen to adore this musical. And the casting that was done was wonderful. Honestly, can you have anyone BUT Santana to be Anita?

My only issue was how they staged "America." They staged it like the movie (where there are guys). The additions of the other gang was a nice touch, though.

This is how the number was originally intended. (I happen to LOVE Karen Olivo in this!)

Now, onto the sex.

Unlike the episode about drinking, I liked how they handled this. It wasn't rushed, or forced. It seemed like a natural progression. And it was open ended. For all we know they never went all the way. And honestly, if all Kurt and Blaine got to was heavy petting, it would not surprise me at all.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Up until the 19th Amendment, Women had little say over their own lives. Up until the 20th century they were property of their husbands and fathers, unable to control their own money or own their own property.

But it got better.... for a while.

Around that time many states (31 in fact) passed laws legalizing Eugenics, and setting up Eugenics boards. Women (mainly poor and African American) were forcibly sterilized in an effort to end poverty and "feeblemindedness." These practices continued thought the 40's, and in come cases as late as the 70's.

Now the trend has reversed, and instead of sterilizing women, lawmakers want to make sure they have children by making a fertilized egg a "person."

Mississippi's Prop 26 want to declare a fertilized egg a person. This would outlaw abortion. It would also outlaw birth control. It would let women with ectopic pregnancies die instead of ending the pregnancy. It would spell the end of IVF in Mississippi.

Now, knowing that Mississippi has one of the highest poverty rates, teen pregnancy rates, one of the lowest literacy rates and one of the highest percentages of adults over 25 that don't have a High School Diploma, how is this law a smart thing? Even with all of that stacked against them, the federal government wants to slash the funding for W.I.C and Head Start, two programs designed for poor single mothers. Assuming this passes, there will be more and more poor single mothers in Mississippi.

For a group of Republicans that want more spending cuts and less government regulation... they seem to be wanting a lot of regulating.

Or maybe it's just that they don't respect women?

Or maybe they are so concerned with ending abortion that they never stopped to consider what would happen after. Or do they care what happens with all the babies that result?

Monday, November 7, 2011

It's Monday again....

This weekend was... Interesting....

Thursday I had to have a chat with someone. They said: "It's it your fault, don't worry about it." So of course, I had a panic attack.

Friday was.. Friday. I worked, I came home. The Spousal Equivalent wasn't there. He went to an Anime Convention. I had a lot of time to think.... which is always a dangerous thing.

For your reference, I'm really good and thinking of the consequences of my actions. But.... I tend to focus on the most outrageous one, and make it a hundred times worse. So by the time I heard from him on Friday night, I was sure that he'd find a younger, thinner, smarter, anime-loving version of me. *sigh* Well, he didn't, and I settled down with Regency House Party for the night.

The next morning I watched Manor House (can you tell I'm on a historical reality TV kick?), and worked from home. A quick trip to the store brought me gourmet pizza and Ben and Jerry's. I was ready to settle in with some movies when friends called asking me to Babysit. (And by babysit, they meant make sure the house doesn't burn down. The child was already in bed when I got there.). So I watched Disney movies on their HD tv. Animation in HD? Awesome!!

Sunday the SE came home, and I taught Religious Education. We took advantage of a sale at Bath and Body Works, then came home with lunch and dinner and settled in for the night.

Today I had to hurry up and scan stuff that I didn't know needed to be scanned! Hours of this... what a lovely way to start my week. Is it Friday yet?

In other news, I need to buy a pet step. The Misty hurt her front right leg... again... jumping off the sofa. She'll be ok, and she doesn't act like she's in that much pain. But I think it'll be a quiet night of snuggles for that pup tonight.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Adventures of being a Fur Parent

Yesterday, my Misty went in to have her teeth cleaned. Now, for humans this is no big deal. For little dogs, this is HUGE!

  1. Misty HATES the vet. They've cut her open, shoved stuff up her butt, poked her with needles and put stuff up her nose. In her words, they are EVOL!
  2. The pet nurse that checked us in was a large man. She's not a fan of guys, so getting her in there was difficult.
So she went. I cried. It was pathetic. The Spousal Equivalent picked her up. and my bouncy Mistygirl, was very sleepy on the ride home. Thanks to the anesthesia.

We was supposed to be given some water before the food. To see if she kept it down. Well, stubborn-butt wanted none of that! she wanted food! That's when I got smart. I took a cereal bowl and filled it with water, and a tiny scoop of food. Well, it worked. She ate the food and then finished the water.

This morning the pup is grumpy. I suspect she's hung over.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I found this on Facebook.. and it got me thinking..

This is incredibly true. Scarily so.

I remember first noticing this in college. Women who were smart, capable women when we entered college, were quickly turning into air-heads. Usually the switch occurred when they procured a man.

The next time I was faced with almost militant anti-intellectualism was during my first full time teaching position. The area was poor, rural and predominantly African-American. The boys in my classes all but refused to learn. The didn't want to read, didn't want to write, didn't care if they failed the 8th grade (multiple times). I asked the principal what was wrong, and mixed in with the usual no parent involvement and reading difficulties was the fact that they want to be ganstas didn't want to "act white."

I was stunned. Intelligence is now anti-black?

This attitude, that being able to read, write grammatically correct sentences and hold an intelligent conversation is beginning to spread. I ran into it during my years as a fifth grade teacher. Students wondered why we couldn't write an essay as if we were writing a text message. They refused to look things up in a book if there was a possibility of googleing it. I wondered if the students were lazy. Now I'm not so sure.

I think that we should honor intelligence as much as we honor sports heroes.

But that won't happen. Look at the recent presidential candidates. Sarah Palin, Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann have proven that they have a complete lack of understanding of History. Rich Perry goes as far as to refuse to look at any sort of statistical analysis, well at least when it comes to sex education in Texas.

It's very frustrating, and I don't know how to stop the dumbing down of America...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween, or, Great Pumpkin Day!

There's something lost on Halloween when you have no children. But I have a dog. So, that dog got dressed up!
Here she is, the Misty-Bat!
She hunts Squirrels!
She licks her Momma!
And looks cute doing it.

The Spousal Equivalent also got into the act. I've been in the grips of allergy hell. So we watched The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, ate pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin pie and were generally lazy.

Today, I'm at work, trying not to claw my eyes out. Seriously, allergies should be a recognized form of torture. Tonight we go back to getting the house presentable again (who knew pancakes could generate so many dishes), and start thinking about Christmas.

Hush up! It's my favorite time of the year!

Now.. what to dress the dog in for Christmas....

Monday, October 31, 2011

This is how you get it done....

... or my three years in High School Marching Band

I know I've talked about this before... but since my guys won the state championship... indulge me.

I got tears watching the video that goes along with that above article. Why? Because moments like that you'll never forget.

Let me paint a picture of what it takes to stand on that field, and be presented as the state champion:

The season starts soon after the 4th of July. The band gets the music, the guard starts learning the flag work. Everyone gets refreshers (or lessons) on marching. By the end of that month everyone can march, left foot first. We can all take exactly 8 steps for ever 5 yards (10 steps going backwards). We can all stand at attention. We all have pride.

Every rehearsal starts that same. When I was in school it was 3 4 hour rehearsals a week, one 2 hour one. Everyone arrived at 5:45, because at 6 you were lined up in your sections and you marched to the field. You gave your very best while you were out there. If you messed up (dropped a flag, tripped over your feet, got yelled at by the Drill Staff) you did push ups. Trust me, the same mistake was never made again.

Band camp never yielded stories like they did in the movies. Band Camp was a week of 6 hour rehearsals in the hottest part of the summer. (The only story I ever had was when I nearly passed out) By the end the show has basically been learned. All that is left is perfecting it.

Starting soon after Labor Day, the competitions start. Those days are long: three hour rehearsal in the morning, dinner, dressing then off to compete. Competition started long before we got into the stadium. Competition started on the buses. Traditionally, the buses went silent as soon as we exited the highway. Everyone mentally went through the show, and got ready for the night's performance. After warming up, the band gathers, and the director says the same thing: "Say a prayer, say a silent prayer. not for yourself, but for others. That they might do their very best." That's the definition of team. Then the band gets into formation, and marches over. Silent feet, proud faces to the ticking of drum sticks.

How does West Genesee achieve excellence year after year? The staff, students and alumni expect excellence. It's as simple as that. The expectations are set high, the students practice discipline and everyone works hard.

That's why you saw tears in the eyes of the guard as the final score was read. They, and obviously the rest of the band set an amazingly high standard and worked spectacularly hard to achieve it.

And when you are touched by something as great as this, it changes you forever.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Something afoot at the Circle-K

Well, no... it's church, but that title was better.

I got less than lovely news over the weekend. Apparently church is hurting for money, and among other things, they are keeping the heat at 58 degrees. Yes, we'll have to wear gloves and winter coats.. inside.. on Sunday mornings. I find this disturbing for many, many reasons.

  • To any visitors, it makes us less than desirable.
  • I don't think the choir can practice, or sing in those temperatures. I know I can't. (I have cold induced asthma)
  • It's going to drive people, and their money, away.
  • We give money to charity every week... maybe we should keep it a few weeks to catch up?
  • How about the children, and babies in the nursery? That can't be healthy.
I've heard of people considering leaving the church, and going to one with heat. I've considered stopping my automatic payments.. especially if I'm going to avoid the place until warmer weather comes.

I, and many others, pay as much as we can every month. I, and many others, have the money automatically sent to the church. We're doing all we can, but they want and need more.

I don't have any money left for y'all. Sorry.

Now, I need to decide if I want to even bother going to service tomorrow. I might stay in my warm house and do laundry.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Poor planning on your part shouldn't require a crisis on mine...

... but all too often it does.

There are a few things I can't do in short notice. I can't find you meeting space in our building after 3, I can't have a meal catered. I can't get you an AV person for your lecture. I can't order lunch for you (especially if you don't tell me what you want!).

Now, I'm usually very good at my job, but some things I just can't do.

And when do I get asked to do these things? When the professors forget to tell me that they need something. They forget, and I get panicked emails over night about said things. And it's up to me to fix it.

Sometimes it just doesn't get done. And I feel awful.

I shouldn't.

It wasn't my fault.

I need to let it go.

I woke up today thinking it was Friday

Oh how wrong I was! Don't you hate that?

The FlyLady approach goes on, albeit a day behind schedule. I'm hoping to catch up over the weekend.

I'm contemplating going back to Weight Watchers, since it was working. But it's $40 a month. I'd get half of that back, but man, that's a lot of money. And if the rumored changes at church happen, money is about to become a very sore subject.

Can I justify the cost (that will leave me VERY short every single paycheck.)

It will take some more pondering, I think.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Well, it was a good start....

I decided that I'm going back to FlyLady this week.

Well, a modified version. Fly lady focuses on a room a week. I live in a small two bedroom apartment.... I focus on a few tasks in each room every day.

Well, I'm already behind. We went on a campus tour, and the almost two hour walk around campus (and the five hours of office crap after) just sucked the life out of me. Between setting up my new computer (the office bought me one, for working from home), making dinner and the fatigue.. I'm kinda done.

But fear not. I'll regroup tomorrow and just add scrubbing the kitchen counters to the bathroom cleaning on tap for tomorrow.

I have a plan. I just need to keep with it!

Monday, October 24, 2011

And in the realm of less angsty news....

FINALLY, I'm looking at a week where I have little in the way of outside commitments. And this is good! Because it looks like a bomb exploded in my house.

I have a plan, I have help. I just need motivation. Why? because a nap sounds really good right now.

And there's an added bonus of shingles going around the office. Great.....

Warning! Not fit for Human Consumption!

I need that warning written on a t-shirt sometimes.

I completely blew up at a friend yesterday. I understand that he's all clean food crusading. I totally get it. But when I say that I have monetary and time issues with shopping at farmers markets, don't tell me that I don't. I know he meant well.

I've gotten awfully tired of being.. well... preached at... at church. Now, my church doesn't preach about God or Jesus or all. My church usually gets preachy about environmental issues, social justice issues and money. These topics seem to come in waves. The spring generally brings the environmental topics, and the winter brings the money. I understand that these are serious issues, but really do we need to hear it from different people, in different ways, for months on end?

Maybe it's just my non-confrontational nature acting up. Maybe it's my situation (No, I can't use a rain barrel or plant a garden, I live in an apartment!). Maybe it's just fatigue. I've done what I've can. I've given all of the money that I can give. I understand that Wal-mart is bad, but they have whatever I was there for cheaper that the store you prefer.

In the end, I'm sure that this pressure to be a perfect UU is all internal. I know that I'm not being judged, or laughed at. But at times I feel under a microscope.

And when I'm under that microscope, I need to learn to tell people to drop the subject. Or I need to walk away.

Or there might be tears, like there was yesterday.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ahhh, Friday

I only really had 2 thoughts today:

1.) I'm attempting a week of seriously working out. And my seriously, I mean, every day. I've been feeling pretty poorly, and I'm wondering if that would help! I also think actually going to the chiropractor would help me move better.

2.) We got some awful news at work. I'm under a gag order, so I told the dog. Man.. she's a pretty good listener.

I'm home from work early, since it's homecoming.. and I don't want to be caught behind the parade. Happy Friday!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I think I'm getting to the end of an era.

My Monday dance class has dwindled to 1 person. Me.

This lead to more conversation and less dancing (the teacher and I have known each other for years). We both admitted that possibly we were getting too old for this. Her class sizes are dwindling. Maybe the universe is trying to tell us something.

Oh well.... I'll always have dance... on my Wii

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Sermon I gave at church

Popcorn Theology with Matthew, Mark, Joan and Rufus

This summer the teen religious education classes engaged in their own form of Popcorn Theology. I was curious about what this meant, so I looked it up. Michelle Richards, the author of the book says that “Popcorn Theology takes the concept and popularity of movie night to explore issues of theology and ethics for Unitarian Universalists.”

That got me thinking. I know that my views on morality and ethics have been shaped by the media, but has my own personal theology been influenced as well? I know that as UU’s our faith is drawn from the six sources. What if my sources also included movies, television and novels? I put some thought into it. As I sat and thought about the books, movies and television shows that I enjoyed so much, I began to realize how parts of them played into my sense of personal theology today.

Before we begin, a little background. The area that I grew up in was far from religiously diverse. It was rather “column A” or “column B”. Column A was Catholicism. There were large, well-attended catholic churches in my town. My father’s family and many of my friends were part of column A. Column B was the Protestant churches. These were mainly Presbyterian and Methodist, but even the Baptist church had a similar service. I was well into high school before we had any Jewish or Islamic kids in the school. It was a place where you went to church, or didn’t. But you never really talked about religion.

I was the exception to that rule because I talked about religion. I had questions and I asked questions for a while. When I got answers that didn’t make sense, I stopped asking. Two instances stand out in my mind.
  • The first was when I was in elementary school. I didn’t want to get up for church, and asked my mother why I had to go. She informed me that I needed to go to church so God could hear me pray. This puzzled me. I asked “Well, if we go to church so God can hear us pray, why do we pray before bed?” At this point, mom got a little flustered and the subject was dropped.
  • The second happened in Middle School. My catholic grandmother always went to church on my birthday, the Feast of Immaculate Conception. Now, even in Middle School I could do math, and December 8th to December 25th isn’t nine months. I asked her about it, and she told me that’s when Mary was immaculately conceived. I then read the New Testament, never finding where it was mentioned. She told me that it’s not in the bible, but all Catholics understand it to be true. I wanted to call shenanigans on that, but wise enough not to argue with my Grandmother.

After that, I decided that if the Catholics can simply decide things about their religion, why can’t I? Not being one that learned well though reading (a fact that would haunt me in College), I began to unconsciously cobble together my own views on religion from the next best source: movies and television. Looking back, I am less than surprised at the movies and television shows that influenced me.
I was born in the mid 70’s and grew up with The Magic Garden, Romper Room and a rather psychedelic Sesame Street. The early 80’s brought two things to our home: Cable, complete with HBO, and Star Wars.

Because of the magic of HBO and repeating movies ad nauseum, by the time Return of the Jedi opened in 1983 I could recite multiple passages of Star Wars (the first one). I learned two things from those movies.

1. I wanted to live in the Ewok village on Endor (Honestly, what seven year old wouldn’t?) and
2. I wanted to be a Jedi.

Why a Jedi? Well, I was a fan of the Jedi mind trick. And light sabers were pretty cool. But I really understood what the Force stood for. It made sense.
“The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.”

I loved the idea of that. Something that connects us all. A code of honor. It’s a thought that is echoed in a great many modern religious movements (including our own). In fact, so many people believe in the Jedi Code, an actual religion has formed from it. In The UK, there are enough members that it merited being an official religion choice on the British census.


I spent High School and College with religion largely absent from my life. I also spent some time trying to reconcile my love for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s very Christian rock opera Jesus Christ Super Star with the love for the rather pagan The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, which was a feminist re-telling of the Arthurian Legend. I still love them both, despite of their wildly opposite points of view.

In 1999, Hollywood kicked the Catholic Church in the teeth with the 1-2 punch of Dogma and Stigmata. Both of the movies were met with harsh criticism and protests. Both of the movies were very critical of the rigid, outdated views of the Catholic Church.

Dogma was the story of two angels that were on a quest to unmake existence, all thanks to a loophole in Catholic dogma. They are stopped by the Last Scion, the 13th Apostle, the Metatron (who is the voice of God, not a Transformer) and of course, Jay and Silent Bob. This movie by Kevin Smith has multiple quotes that basically sum up my views on religion. My favorite is this one from the muse Serendipity:

Serendipity: When are you people going to learn? It's not about who's right or wrong. No denomination's nailed it yet, and they never will because they're all too self-righteous to realize that it doesn't matter what you have faith in, just that you have faith. Your hearts are in the right place, but your brains need to wake up.
I love that the film explored religion from a denomination neutral perspective, while still acknowledging that there is a God (played in this film by Alanis Morrisette). I happen to agree with Serendipity, no denomination has gotten it right yet.

Serendipity’s thoughts about faith, funny enough, are echoed by the preacher Shepherd Book in the short lived space western, Firefly some years later. After River Tam (who is brilliant, but not entirely mentally stable) declares that his Bible is broken he responds with: “It's not about making sense. It's about believing in something, and letting that belief be real enough to change your life. It's about faith. You don't fix faith, River. It fixes you.” In the movie Serenity, which is the continuation of the cancelled series, he echoes those thoughts to Mal, as he lay dying. He pleads with Mal, a man that is quickly losing everything that is dear to him, to believe in something, anything.
Whereas Dogma was a comedy, Stigmata is a horror film. Stigmata is the story of a young atheist woman, who begins to suffer the stigmata wounds after being possessed by a priest who translated the Gospel of St. Thomas. The Gospel of St. Thomas is a collection of Jesus’s sayings, or so it claims, that wasn’t included in the New Testament, and some have called it a heretical text. Catholic Clergy in this movie thought this simple idea could take down the church. Before someone runs out to research this, I did it for you. Though the movie’s version of the Gospel of Thomas is incorrect (They cobbled together lines from the real gospel), the idea behind it is sound.
“Jesus said... the Kingdom of God is inside you, and all around you, not in mansions of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood... and I am there, lift a stone... and you will find me. “
That one line struck fear into the corrupt priests. They feared that the mere idea contained in those words would bring down the church. They were afraid that Jesus said that churches aren’t necessary to be close to God, and that this one idea would take away their power, and their jobs. That God is everywhere and in everything. Kind of like the Force.
In 2003 Hollywood again tackled the thorny subject of religion with Joan of Arcadia. This is a show about God, but doesn’t follow one system of beliefs. The show follows the exploits of Joan (who lives in Arcadia), as she follows instructions from God. God shows himself (or herself) as a variety of people, of all genders and ages. They all have three things in common. They all are God. They all know Joan’s name. And they all have that same condescending wave. They also all give her tasks that, at first seem absolutely ridiculous. Joan whines. She complains. Her friends think she is crazy, but somehow she learns something from the tasks. Coincidentally, both Joan, and God were nominated by UU World readers as being television characters that people strongly suspect are UU’s.

The show was conceived of by Barbara Hall, who gave these guidelines for the writers of the show. The “Ten Commandments of Joan of Arcadia,” if you will. Many of these “commandments” reflect my own ideas about God (for the Divine, or whatever you want to call it):
  • God cannot directly intervene.
  • Good and evil exist.
  • God can never identify one religion as being right.
  • The job of every human being is to fulfill his or her true nature.
  • Everyone is allowed to say "no" to God, including Joan.
  • God is not a person and does not possess a human personality.
  • God talks to everyone all the time in different ways.
  • God's plan is what is good for us, not what is good for him.
  • God's purpose for talking to Joan, and everyone, is to get her (us) to recognize the interconnectedness of all things.

I always loved the God in Joan of Arcadia. That God is very similar to what I have always viewed God as being: someone kind, with our best interests in mind, whose message other people may misinterpret from time to time.

I actually completely believe that God speaks to everyone. God, the Universe, whatever you call it. I call those conversations "clue by four moments." They are moments when it's like the universe downloads exactly what you need to think, say or do, directly into your head. The moment, in my mind, when a Monty Python-esque hand comes down from illuminated clouds to slap you upside the head. Like God is saying: "Get clue!" then handing it to you.
Those movies and shows: Star Wars, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Mists of Avalon, Dogma, Stigmata and Joan of Arcadia were all tools. They were mirrors that I held up to my faith. I saw parts of my spirituality reflected in them. I thought I had it all figured out. Then Eat Pray Love hit me over the head. Eat Pray Love is the memoir of the amazing year that Elizabeth Gilbert spent in Italy, India and Bali. It’s now a movie with Julia Roberts. Now don’t laugh, but some of the passages knocked the wind out of me. It was like the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, reached inside of me to put the words on the page. Because I was there. On page 20 she writes:
“I was trying so hard not to know this, but the truth kept insisting itself to me.
I don’t want to be married anymore.
I don’t want to live in this big house. I don’t want to have a baby.”(Eat pray Love, page 20)
At that point, she had me hooked. I was sucked into this woman’s “free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” In this search, she goes to eat her way around Italy, pray in India, then she studies with a medicine man in Indonesia (where she learns to smile with her liver). But along the way, she comes up with ideas similar to my own. She writes:
“The Hopi Indians thought the world’s religions each contained one spiritual thread, and that these threads are always seeking each other, wanting to join. When all the threads are finally woven together they will form a rope that will pull us out of this dark cycle of history and into the next realm.” (Eat Pray Love, p. 298)
This woman from a protestant background took experiences from Hindu practices, experiences of living in a very Catholic country and experiences with her medicine man and wove her own faith from the spiritual threads she found.
So why even do this? Why look to movies and television for my spiritual path? My answer is a simple: Why not? We are all here on our free and responsible searches for truth and meaning. As we search we should feel free to consider ideas and inspiration from outside the realm of scholarly text. In Andrew’s sermon on June 12 he called our faith “experiential.” We were challenged to (to borrow the first living tradition) directly experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life. I find nothing wrong with experiencing that wonder through the lens of someone that has put time and study into this subject. People like Kevin Smith, Barbara Hall, Joss Whedon and Elizabeth Gilbert found their own truth and meaning, and chose to share that truth with the rest of us.

Now, while agree with all of the other “e” words that Andrew used in that sermon, I want to add one more. Our faith is “experimental.” We are both encouraged and, honestly, expected to piece together thoughts, words, movies, books and (even maybe) pies into a Frankenstein’s Monster of personal theology. We spend our lives tinkering with it until hitting the it’s alive moment where the lightning flashes and we can see our creation coming to life inside of us as a fully formed set of ideas. We then spend our lives tinkering with the parts, adding new ones in and taking old ones away. This is the one amazing advantage that our faith has over the other hundred churches in town. We’re not a one size fits all operation. I spent my youth in churches where you were expected to believe in everything that the church stood for. In many cases it ended up being an all or nothing situation. That’s why I like it here. We mix and match, allowing for our experiments, experience, and learning styles to guide us.

As I finish this up, I’m going to put my teacher hat back on for a bit. I charge all of you to go and find your own truth and meaning in unusual sources. Be it a movie, a book, a musical, song, painting or even in an episode of Glee, find your own ideas that build your personal theology in someplace unexpected. Go ahead, experiment a little.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It Is Finally Over!!

After weeks of stressing about it, I gave my sermon at church. It went well. Really well. To celebrate, I had ice cream and a yummy dinner. I'll pay for it in the dance studio tomorrow!