19 December 2006

My Secret

I have a secret.
Don’t tell anyone.
An angel walks among us.
She doesn’t know she’s an angel, though.
I know.

She thinks she’s just a woman, just a mom, just a friend.
She’s not. She’s so much more.
You see, moms are there when you need them.
Friends offer care and concern.
She offers her heart and soul.

She drives for hours, just to be nearby.
She loses herself in providing love and tenderness, a listening ear.
She loves unconditionally—not just sometimes, but always.
She gives herself to people who never cared, never expecting anything but honesty in return.

Her disappointment would be the worst form of punishment, because she deserves so much.
But she is never disappointed.
Even when you fail her, she continues to love and give.
She never sees the failure.
She never sees the mis-step or the broken promise.
All she sees is the face of someone she loves.

An angel walks among us.
She is my mother.


I intensely dislike free-form poetry. I'm of the belief that poetry should have a meter, and that it should rhyme. Unfortunately, the words don't always come the way you'd like for them to come, and with what you're left is something in-between poetry and prose. For the above, I apologize.

16 December 2006

Shameless Rip-Off From Brownie Points

Your Vocabulary Score: A+

Congratulations on your multifarious vocabulary!
You must be quite an erudite person.

Giant Headaches and Tiny Victories

Decorating for Christmas is a fun way to begin the holiday season. In our family, we have a tradition of decorating for Christmas on the day after Thanksgiving. All the decorations come down the day after Christmas. Well, I live far away from my family, and I was going to be at my parents' home over Thanksgiving, so I decorated my apartment for Christmas on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. I like to put lights on my balcony railing, so I got out my lovely icicle strand and hung it carefully. When I was done, I plugged it in and it lit up beautifully... except for one section of it.

Christmas light strands, these days, are made so that if a bulb burns out, only one section will not continue to light. This is good, in that it keeps you from having to check the entire strand for one little broken filament. I found the offending bulb. (And I'm very thankful that, while my eyesight is imperfect, I have wonderful near-vision. If I was at all far-sighted, I'd have been pooched! Those filaments are nigh-unto invisible!)

I thought to myself, "I believe I have more small bulbs in with the rest of my Christmas stuff," and I was correct. I retrieved the bulb, and put it into the slot where the broken one had been. It didn't fit. I pushed harder. It still wouldn't fit. I twisted, and almost broke the bulb. It wouldn't go in the little blinking blanking hole. So, I took the replacement bulb and held it up to the broken bulb. What I found is what you can see in the picture above. There is more than one miniature lightbulb base. (Presumably so you can't replace the bulbs, which causes you to, instead, replace the entire strand. Actually, not a bad marketing strategy, but a bugger for the consumer.)

Well, being of the lineage that I tout, I did the difficult thing to do. I whipped out my pocket knife and started carving away at the little plastic base. (The green bulb is the replacement bulb, so I needed to whittle down the base until the grooves matched the white one.) As I learned while growing up, the only way to tackle a task such as this is to make sure that your mouth is running at approximately the same speed as your tool of choice (particularly if the tool is ill-suited for the job you've given it), and your mouth should be muttering tiny little curses (not foul-language, just actual curses) against the communist nazi who came up with the stupid idea which foiled your plans, your day, and ultimately your entire life. :D That bulb never had a chance.

I won. I put the freshly-carved lightbulb into the strand, and -- PRESTO!-- the previously-dead section came to life! VICTORY against a lightbulb! Thank God for opposable thumbs and rapidly-moving intellect. :D

Now all I have to do is carve another bulb for the next section of the strand which decided to die recently... Sigh.

Much Love.

Color and Me

Interesting... Take a quiz, and see how close it is to correct. I like this one.

This is me, apparently. Fairly accurate...

You are a person who approaches their finances aggressively and with purpose. You make sure you have covered every angle by consulting the best professionals, then move in for the attack.

Preferring a more casual appearance, you are more comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt than in a suit. You don't like over dressing for any occasion, although you never look scruffy.

You are aggressive in business, but tend to take the backseat when it comes to your personal life. You are more comfortable talking about work than relationships.

You are a very practical person. It's more important to you that the things you own are useful, rather than nice to look at.

A good listener. You are comfortable allowing others to take the spotlight and share their adventures. You are protective about your friendship and ensure the best for your friends.

You are a no-nonsense, practical person. You make sure that you are there when your friends need you, and like to solve their problems for them.

15 December 2006

Seasonal Greetings

For My Democrat Friends:

"Please accept, with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country, nor the only America in theWestern Hemisphere. And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishes. By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher."

For My Republican Friends:

“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”

14 November 2006

An American Coward

I usually prefer to write my own stuff for my blog, but I thought this was too good to not re-post.

An Honest Confession by an American Coward
By: Pat Conroy

Pat Conroy's novels include The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, and Beach Music. He lives on Fripp Island, South Carolina. This essay is from his forthcoming book, My Losing Season.

The true things always ambush me on the road and take me by surprise when I am drifting down the light of placid days, careless about flanks and rearguard actions. I was not looking for a true thing to come upon me in the state of New Jersey. Nothing has ever happened to me in New Jersey. But came it did, and it came to stay.

In the past four years I have been interviewing my teammates on the 1966-67 basketball team at the Citadel for a book I'm writing. For the most part, this has been like buying back a part of my past that I had mislaid or shut out of my life. At first I thought I was writing about being young and frisky and able to run up and down a court all day long, but lately I realized I came to this book because I needed to come to grips with being middle-aged and having ripened into a gray-haired man you could not trust to handle the ball on a fast break.

When I visited my old teammate Al Kroboth's house in New Jersey, I spent the first hours quizzing him about his memories of games and practices and the screams of coaches that had echoed in field houses more than 30 years before. Al had been a splendid forward-center for the Citadel; at 6 feet 5 inches and carrying 220 pounds, he played with indefatigable energy and enthusiasm. For most of his senior year, he led the nation in field-goal percentage, with UCLA center Lew Alcindor hot on his trail. Al was a battler and a brawler and a scrapper from the day he first stepped in as a Green Weenie as a sophomore to the day he graduated. After we talked basketball, we came to a subject I dreaded to bring up with Al, but which lay between us and would not lie still.

"Al, you know I was a draft dodger and antiwar demonstrator."

"That's what I heard, Conroy," Al said. "I have nothing against what you did, but I did what I thought was right."

"Tell me about Vietnam, big Al. Tell me what happened to you," I said.

On his seventh mission as a navigator in an A-6 for Major Leonard Robertson, Al was getting ready to deliver their payload when the fighter-bomber was hit by enemy fire. Though Al has no memory of it, he punched out somewhere in the middle of the ill-fated dive and lost consciousness. He doesn't know if he was unconscious for six hours or six days, nor does he know what happened to Major Robertson (whose name is engraved on the Wall in Washington and on the MIA bracelet Al wears).

When Al awoke, he couldn't move. A Viet Cong soldier held an AK-47 to his head. His back and his neck were broken, and he had shattered his left scapula in the fall. When he was well enough to get to his feet (he still can't recall how much time had passed), two armed Viet Cong led Al from the jungles of South Vietnam to a prison in Hanoi. The journey took three months. Al Kroboth walked barefooted through the most impassable terrain in Vietnam, and he did it sometimes in the dead of night. He bathed when it rained, and he slept in bomb craters with his two Viet Cong captors. As they moved farther north, infections began to erupt on his body, and his legs were covered with leeches picked up while crossing the rice paddies.

At the very time of Al's walk, I had a small role in organizing the only antiwar demonstration ever held in Beaufort, South Carolina, the home of Parris Island and the Marine Corps Air Station. In a Marine Corps town at that time, it was difficult to come up with a quorum of people who had even minor disagreements about the Vietnam War. But my small group managed to attract a crowd of about 150 to Beaufort's waterfront. With my mother and my wife on either side of me, we listened to the featured speaker, Dr. Howard Levy, suggest to the very few young enlisted Marines present that if they get sent to Vietnam, here's how they can help end this war: Roll a grenade under your officer's bunk when he's asleep in his tent. It's called fragging and is becoming more and more popular with the ground troops who know this war is bullshit. I was enraged by the suggestion. At that very moment my father, a Marine officer, was asleep in Vietnam. But in 1972, at the age of 27, I thought I was serving America's interests by pointing out what massive flaws and miscalculations and corruptions had led her to conduct a ground war in Southeast Asia.

In the meantime, Al and his captors had finally arrived in the North, and the Viet Cong traded him to North Vietnamese soldiers for the final leg of the trip to Hanoi. Many times when they stopped to rest for the night, the local villagers tried to kill him. His captors wired his hands behind his back at night, so he trained himself to sleep in the center of huts when the villagers began sticking knives and bayonets into the thin walls.

Following the U.S. air raids, old women would come into the huts to excrete on him and yank out hunks of his hair. After the nightmare journey of his walk north, Al was relieved when his guards finally delivered him to the POW camp in Hanoi and the cell door locked behind him.

It was at the camp that Al began to die. He threw up every meal he ate and before long was misidentified as the oldest American soldier in the prison because his appearance was so gaunt and skeletal. But the extraordinary camaraderie among fellow prisoners that sprang up in all the POW camps caught fire in Al, and did so in time to save his life.

When I was demonstrating in America against Nixon and the Christmas bombings in Hanoi, Al and his fellow prisoners were holding hands under the full fury of those bombings, singing "God Bless America." It was those bombs that convinced Hanoi they would do well to release the American POWs, including my college teammate. When he told me about the C-141 landing in Hanoi to pick up the prisoners, Al said he felt no emotion, none at all, until he saw the giant American flag painted on the plane's tail. I stopped writing as Al wept over the memory of that flag on that plane, on that morning, during that time in the life of America.

It was that same long night, after listening to Al's story, that I began to make judgments about how I had conducted myself during the Vietnam War.

In the darkness of the sleeping Kroboth household, lying in the third-floor guest bedroom, I began to assess my role as a citizen in the '60s, when my country called my name and I shot her the bird. Unlike the stupid boys who wrapped themselves in Viet Cong flags and burned the American one, I knew how to demonstrate against the war without flirting with treason or astonishingly bad taste. I had come directly from the warrior culture of this country and I knew how to act.

But in the 25 years that have passed since South Vietnam fell, I have immersed myself in the study of totalitarianism during the unspeakable century we just left behind. I have questioned survivors of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, talked to Italians who told me tales of the Nazi occupation, French partisans who had counted German tanks in the forests of Normandy, and officers who survived the Bataan Death March. I quiz journalists returning from wars in Bosnia, the Sudan, the Congo, Angola, Indonesia, Guatemala, San Salvador, Chile, Northern Ireland, Algeria.

As I lay sleepless, I realized I'd done all this research to better understand my country. I now revere words like democracy, freedom, the right to vote, and the grandeur of the extraordinary vision of the founding fathers. Do I see America's flaws? Of course. But I now can honor her basic, incorruptible virtues, the ones that let me walk the streets screaming my ass off that my country had no idea what it was doing in South Vietnam. My country let me scream to my heart's content - the same country that produced both Al Kroboth and me.

Now, at this moment in New Jersey, I come to a conclusion about my actions as a young man when Vietnam was a dirty word to me. I wish I'd led a platoon of Marines in Vietnam. I would like to think I would have trained my troops well and that the Viet Cong would have had their hands full if they entered a firefight with us. From the day of my birth, I was programmed to enter the Marine Corps. I was the son of a Marine fighter pilot, and I had grown up on Marine bases where I had watched the men of the corps perform simulated war games in the forests of my childhood. That a novelist and poet bloomed darkly in the house of Santini strikes me as a remarkable irony. My mother and father had raised me to be an Al Kroboth, and during the Vietnam era they watched in horror as I metamorphosed into another breed of fanatic entirely. I understand now that I should have protested the war after my return from Vietnam, after I had done my duty for my country. I have come to a conclusion about my country that I knew then in my bones but lacked the courage to act on: America is good enough to die for even when she is wrong.

I looked for some conclusion, a summation of this trip to my teammate's house. I wanted to come to the single right thing, a true thing that I may not like but that I could live with. After hearing Al Kroboth's story of his walk across Vietnam and his brutal imprisonment in the North, I found myself passing harrowing, remorseless judgment on myself. I had not turned out to be the man I had once envisioned myself to be. I thought I would be the kind of man that America could point to and say, "There. That's the guy. That's the one who got it right. The whole package. The one I can depend on."

It had never once occurred to me that I would find myself in the position I did on that night in Al Kroboth's house in Roselle, New Jersey: an American coward spending the night with an American hero.

13 November 2006

My Friday Experience in Discomfort

I flew back to Kansas City over the long weekend, and decided that while I was there, I’d see my doctor for my annual exam. Every 2 years, I am screened for cholesterol, and this was the year, so I got to fast before my exam so that they could draw blood for that. (High cholesterol runs in my family.) I had a whole list of things that I wanted to talk to my doctor about, so when she came in, I handed it to her and we went through everything. I got poked and prodded, as always, with a little extra palpitating based on some of the questions I asked. She decided that I needed to have an ultrasound done, and since someone does those there in the office on Friday afternoons, she asked me to try to schedule it for the same day. I got done with the exam portion and headed over to the blood-letting area for my cholesterol screening. I was also due for my once-a-decade tetanus vaccination, and that means I wound up with entrance and exit wounds on my arm. Woohoo. When I went to check out, I was able to schedule my ultrasound for that afternoon, and the lady told me that I had to continue to fast until that appointment, but I needed to have a full bladder for the ultrasound. She said to “drink AT LEAST 32 ounces in the hour or so before your appointment.” So, I re-scheduled my lunch appointment. Being the over-achiever that I am, I started drinking fluids a couple of hours before the appointment and downed close to 50 ounces before the appointment. Here comes the fun part.

On Friday afternoon, there was a really bad accident with a fatality on 435. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with the KC area, 435 is the interstate highway that circumnavigates the city. It is always busy.) Apparently, one of those HUGE highway directional signs—you know, the big green ones that tell you where the exits are?—fell on a car. They had to bring in a crane to pull the sign off the car. It took them about 4 hours. (Something new for the paranoid people out there to worry about, eh?) So, they shut it down. 435. They shut down the highway. For four hours. Closed. None of this one-lane-is-still-open-and-traffic-is-creeping-through stuff. I was ON 435 when they closed it. I HAD A FULL BLADDER on 435 when they closed it. So traffic stopped. That means I stopped. I honestly have never felt that way before, and I’m not planning on repeating the experience. I was driving my brother’s Toyota Tacoma (stick shift) pick-up truck. When your bladder is in danger of exploding and you have to KEEP your bladder full, a vehicle with a manual transmission is not the most fun thing to be driving. All of the traffic from all 4 east-bound lanes was being diverted onto Nall Ave. Fortunately, my doctor’s office is on Nall.

So I finally, painfully arrived at my doctor’s office, half an hour late, and went in. I was able to convey the urgency I was feeling to the reception staff, and they got me right in. (They’re always quick, there, but the kind lady physically went back and retrieved the ultrasound technician for me.) She didn’t even wait for me to change or anything for the first part of it. She just slapped on some jelly and snapped the pictures she needed and ushered me to the bathroom. God bless her sweet soul. I went back in and she finished the procedure on a much-less-uncomfortable me. (She told me that the receptionist was mistaken, and I really didn’t HAVE to fast for the ultrasound… I could have had lunch!) It was funny, though because as she was getting her gear put away she said, “I’m done here, but your bladder’s filling up again. You’ll probably want to use the rest room again before you leave.” Kinda strange to have someone tell you when you’ll need to go potty. Haha.

So I completed my annual well-woman exam, had blood drawn, got a Tdap shot (which means my deltoid is STILL sore, though it’s wearing off, now), breast exam, pap, pelvic, basic physical, and an external and internal ultrasound. When you add to that list the knee injury I’m still battling, you get quite the picture of my comfort levels for the remainder of the weekend. I have officially added “not needing to have a colonoscopy or endoscopy” to my list of things to be thankful for. Hahahahaha! Ain’t being healthy grand??

The trip was good, overall, though, and I had the opportunity to sit in a hot tub for a little while on Saturday night. That went a long way toward making things well again. :D

Much Love.

(BTW, I got a call from the nurse today saying that my cholesterol was within the normal range, but on the high side—nothing to worry about, just make sure I’m eating properly—and that she would call me back when they got my other exam results back.)

09 November 2006

On Politics-- because you need ONE more opinion.

Some people say that if you don’t vote, you can’t whine. True as that may be, I’d say that even if you do vote, you shouldn’t whine. Here’s my logic—follow if you dare. You voted, you got your say, and just enough of the country believed differently than you that the decision didn’t go your way. Be this amendments or candidates, you don’t get to whine. Sometimes you side with the majority, and sometimes you don’t. Not being part of the majority of voters (not necessarily the majority of the country) does not mean that you didn’t have a valid reason for voting the way you did. For instance, in this mid-term election, VA voted on the amendment stating that marriage should be limited to legal unions involving one man and one woman. Some voted yes, and some voted no. The reasons that each voted the way they did may be equally valid, but the majority said yes. Will it do any good for people to whine to others about not having this go their way? No. But they’ll still whine.

The difference is between words and action. Do you break fellowship with friends and strangers to make a political point, or do you gracefully accept the reality of the situation and move on? I’m registered as a Republican. I tend to vote Republican, not because I’m registered as one, but because the Republican nominees tend to represent my views on a lot of issues. If I find a Democrat who believes as I do more closely than his Republican opponent, I’ll “break party lines” and vote for the guy who best represents me. The thing is that I’m not voting in a popularity contest and this isn’t a p!ssing match. This is our country. If we want to have a representational style of government, then we need to vote for the people who represent us, regardless of their political affiliations. With the turnover of the House to the Democrats and the possibility of the turnover of the Senate, many Dems are gloating about getting some “comeuppance” or other. The fascinating thing about it is that some of the Dems that got the highly contested seats are extremely conservative and vote along the same lines as I; they’re just registered as Democrats. I didn’t vote for them (since I’m outside their constituency), but that doesn’t mean they don’t adequately represent my view of reality.

I think it’s really fascinating how much mess was being thrown around with this mid-term election. The media made a big deal about this being a referendum on President Bush and the war in Iraq—both of which were well-supported initially. The fun thing is that we are just not used to having a politician be honest with us, and then keep being honest. The POTUS said at the beginning that if we went into Iraq it wasn’t going to be easy, and it wasn’t going to be brief, because the fight wasn’t about the visible government this time, so much as the shadow organizations that the government was hiding. He, from the very beginning, made no bones about the fact that this was going to take time, thus the “stay the course” statement that got old after awhile. The reason he kept saying it is because it’s really the key. So we vote in a President who commits to a course of action that the overwhelming majority of the population supports, and then we remember that we live in the microwave society, and get fed up. We get someone in office who does not only what he said he was going to do, but also keeps the promises made by the previous occupant of the White House**, and everybody flips out. “Run, run!! Don’t you know that politicians aren’t allowed to keep their word?? Quick! Get somebody else out here, before we faint! We don’t care who, just somebody else! Even if they’re lying, cheating scumbags! We can’t have someone who actually loves our country and our troops running rampant. We’ve gotta try to hobble him!” So what do they do? They go to the polls in the mid-term elections and try to vote in enough democrats to change the make-up of the House and the Senate. They elected Democrats who fall on the same side as most of the Republicans. The message being declared by America, over an incredibly large bullhorn is, “WE WANT CHANGE… just not a big change. Just a little one will do fine. Let’s just change the name from Republican to Democrat. We still want our representatives in the House and Senate to vote the same way, but we want to call them something else while they do it.”

SO---> You voted, and the other guy got elected. According to my theory, you don’t get to whine. What do you do? You crack open those good-old lines of communication. If the new guy doesn’t tend to vote the way you’d choose, you write a letter or send an email or call his office. Let him know, respectfully, that since he represents you in the Senate (or whatever) that this is what you believe and this is how you’d like him to vote. NOW, this works better if you have an actual belief about a particular topic. Calling an anti-gun liberal to tell him to vote pro-gun is not going to help. If there’s a gun measure pending and there’s a reason you believe he should vote pro-gun on this particular measure, convey specifically and accurately WHY and how he can best represent his constituency. “Senator Nogun, I’d very much like you to vote yes on H.R. 47*. FBI statistics show that 92% of the time the possession/brandishment of a firearm by a citizen, when confronted by a someone with criminal intent, prevents crime. This means that in most cases, the gun possessed by the law-abiding citizen is not even fired. Furthermore, 86% of your constituency support this measure, according to ABC poll conducted by XYZ. Please protect our Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms so that criminals are not the only armed people on our streets. Thank you for your accurate representation of your constituency.” You like/support what he does? Tell him. You don’t like/support what he does? Tell him. That’s the beauty of our form of government. You don’t have to be a Dem to speak to your Dem representative. You don’t have to be GOP to speak to your GOP representative. Nifty, ain’t it?? So if you hear me complain about a Democratic House, you have free rein to reach out and slap me on the back of the head while politely reminding me that it doesn’t matter what party “controls” our government—we control our country.

As I said before, there’s a difference between words and action, and whining to your co-workers won’t make any difference in the way your Congressperson votes, but making that call or sending that email just might. You must remember that what’s shown on TV isn’t necessarily the whole truth. News media have a job to do, and that is to sell newspapers, increase viewership, etc., and thereby, maintain continued gainful employment. Their job is not necessarily to accurately show reality. If they did show all of reality accurately, no one would pay any attention to them, because in reality, not everything is in imminent danger of blowing up or dying. Boredom does not garner support, so the news only reports what they consider stimulating. It’s more stimulating (negatively) to report that the sky is falling than it is stimulating (positively) to report that the fire department rescued that kitten from the tree. It’s more stimulating to report the body count in Iraq than it is to show that the majority of the country is peaceful and that the skirmishes are limited in range and severity and confined to certain areas of the country. (I know this because I know many people who have been in and out of Iraq during this conflict, a couple of whom just returned.) They also fail to report that the body count in this military action is much lower than any other armed conflict in recorded history, while the casualties are being treated more quickly and more accurately to produce better results and return more wounded (rather than dead) soldiers to their homes than ever before. Peace is boring. Dead bodies are exciting-- stimulating. They report the dead bodies. Likewise, relating to politics, the news will carry the story that half a dozen pacifists “converged” on city hall demanding that the recent gun legislation not go through long before they will carry the one about 86% of the population of their city owning and bearing small arms. They know that the “demonstration” will rile, or at least irk, enough of their viewers to an extent that they will continue watching the news, waiting for the next round of protests. It will also maintain the viewership of those 6 pacifists that protested at City Hall, because they’ll believe they’re making headway, just by being on the news. If an anti-gun legislator receives personally-written, well-worded letters from all 6 of those protestors, and sees them on television, but only receives one note from some guy named Jimmy Bob that reads, “Vote fur them gun laws cuz guns are cool,” he’s going to be more likely to believe that his anti-gun stance is an accurate representation of his constituency, and he’s going to sleep soundly after he votes no, while the majority of the people in his district go to bed fuming over their lack of representation. YA WITH ME?????

Ok, I know it’s getting hairy, but stick with me for just a bit. The last thing I’m going to talk about is the mud-slinging ads. During the days/weeks/months leading up to an election, you can’t turn on a television or a radio, or even walk down the street, without being faced with yet another political ad. The majority of them are negative and soul-crushing. Frankly, I think we should crack down on this nonsense and impose heavy fines for being obnoxious. If you can’t tell me who YOU are and what you believe, thus telling me whether or not to vote for you, I sure as HELL don’t want to hear you try to tell me who your opponent is, what he believes, and why I shouldn’t vote for him. If we’re being honest with ourselves, the ads from both parties are disgusting and should be removed from view. (I have a few ideas about where these things should be placed, if the respective candidates wouldn’t mind bending over…) Furthermore, the fines imposed for airing this rubbish should be stiff enough to make them feel it where it hurts worst—their own wallets. The party publishes a commercial smearing your opponent? YOU get to pay for it. You approve an ad that smears your opponent? YOU get to pay for it. Whoever stands to “profit” from the ad should be slapped upside the head and billed for the damage to the collective American Psyche, payment due immediately on penalty of jail time. I feel dumber and dirtier for having seen and heard some of the things that were aired by either party during these elections, and I’m running out of lotion, because all the showers I have to take after seeing these ads are drying out my skin. STOP THE MADNESS!!!!

Before you vote, do some research. Vote for the person who best represents you and who you think will do the best job of taking care of the interests of the country. Be responsible. Keep in mind that the person filling the job ultimately has to answer to you, and act accordingly. Be respectful of those in authority, whether or not they are your choice for those positions. Disrespect of those who occupy an office does not reflect poorly on them, just on you. Be kind. As Samuel Johnson once said, “To cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life.” I’ve quoted this poem that my mother taught me before, and I’ll say it again.

“I have wept through the night
For the shortness of sight
That to somebody’s need made me blind
But I never have yet
Felt a twinge of regret
For being a little too kind.”

These are my official views. This is my blog. If you disagree, you’re welcome to do so… on your own time and on your own blog. :D
Much Love.

* H. R. 47: Citizens’ Self-Defense Act of 2005 “To protect the right to obtain firearms for security, and to use firearms in defense of self, family, or home, and to provide for the enforcement of such right.”

** After the various attacks on the US (Embassies, the Cole, etc.) on Clinton’s watch, he promised that we’d track down the cowards. He didn’t but Bush did.

17 October 2006


Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Mr. Common Sense. Mr. Sense had been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such value lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm and that life isn't always fair. Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not kids, are in charge).

His health began to rapidly deteriorate when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place- Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition. Mr. Sense declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer aspirin to a student; but, could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion. Finally, Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense finally gave up the ghost after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a bit in her lap, and was awarded a huge financial settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust, his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. He is survived by two step-brothers; My Rights and Ima Whiner. Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

10 October 2006

Uncanny resemblence?

Has anyone else noticed the resemblence between William Shatner (no explanation necessary) and Michael Weatherly (NCIS, SA Anthony DiNozzo, CBS)? Just a thought...

... William Shatner
and Michael Weatherly...


28 September 2006

Friends and Strangers

Have you ever had that moment when you suddenly realized that a person you THOUGHT you knew quite well was, in reality, little more than a stranger? Funnily enough, the exact same thing can happen in reverse, as well. Sometimes you meet someone, and while your conscious mind knows that you don't know this person at all, your heart tells you that you're close friends. Even stranger than that, BOTH of those scenarios can happen internally in the relationship you have with yourself. You may be flying along through life and, suddenly, one day awaken to realize that despite the fact that you live with yourself and know all of your stories, you don't know yourself at all. That's not an uncommon thing. The reverse is something I recently experienced.

I have been studying a lot about the way the brain works, and I've been applying the things I'm learning to my own thought processes. My goal is to change the way I think so that I can exhibit my better characteristics more readily and completely eliminate my less desirable traits. Essentially, this means that you change the person you are to a stranger with different viewpoints about life. It suddenly occured to me, today at lunch, that this stranger I'm becoming is someone that I know very well. I realized that I'm happier, calmer, and better with the new thought processes. They fit me in a way that's familiar, despite the fact that they're entirely new and different from who I once was. I came to the realization that the reason that this stranger is a friend is that she is the person I was meant to be all along. She is a soulmate that I never knew I had. I didn't want to be friends with me before, and now I'm this wonderful, beautiful person that I never saw!

It's funny, because I tell my friends that I wish they could see themselves the way that I see them-- as beautiful, valuable women who deserve so much better than they think they do. And now, I'm experiencing what I wanted them to have. I'm seeing me as being the woman that others must have seen, in spite of me. (They had to be seeing the me I'm seeing now, because nobody would want to be friends with the me I saw in the mirror before!) So, here's the thing: studying, bettering yourself, growing as a person, and refusing to stagnate are activities that all of us must do. Just because you're not a part of an organized educational program, or DESPITE the fact that you are a part of one, is not an excuse to cease learning. School has its place, but education is something that cannot and should not be confined to institutions or curricula or some such nonsense.

If you're sick and tired of yourself, but you just can't figure a way to go anywhere without you, then change who you perceive yourself to be, and in turn, the person you become will astound you by being a complete stranger who is the closest friend you've never had.

Much Love.
Check out this video. This is nuts!!

24 August 2006

I feel... Indefinable

Aren't our feelings, our emotions, supposed to fit into categories? We're raised knowing what "happy" means. I'm happy. I'm sad. I'm mad. I'm whichever thing. Pick the category. The problem that I've discovered (Deepak would say, "Challenge. Not problem.") is that emotions don't fit into the boxes. The boxes are too little, and the emotions, too big. When too many different things are warring inside your head, and someone asks you how you are or if you're doing alright, what do you say? I guess you say what my friend Rohil says, "GREAT!" and just make it so by the power of the spoken word. (He's quite wise, beyond his two years-of-age.) So I may feel indefinable, but I'm doing GREAT!

"Mine ears hast thou opened"

There's a little phrase stashed in the middle of a verse in the middle of Psalm 40 that hit me today. "Mine ears hast thou opened." I find it interesting that a man who is known across the centuries for his words, King David, stuck this phrase in the midst of all of it. Not my mouth, not my eyes. My ears. It made me start thinking about just how teachable I am. I've been working closely with a business mentor, and one of the things that he looks for in his mentees is teachability. Apparently he saw it, to some extent, in me. I value learning, highly, and I endeavor to always be a student, in some manner or another, but how teachable am I, really? Are my ears open? In all the noise of life, are my ears open? Can I hear what it is that I'm supposed to be listening for?

There's another portion of scripture that comes to mind with this, and it is in Revelation. It's something that's repeated 7 times in 7 verses throughout 2 chapters. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." Ya think that might be important? I don't have my Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with me at the moment, but I know that there are many verses regarding hearing, being slow to speak, etc. If I look back over my life, I can see many times when I spoke rashly, out of anger, out of frustration, out of many things, but when I do that, no one can hear me say, "I love you." I realized, not too long ago, that I was beginning to mature as an adult, because I take more time to think before I speak than I ever have before. When someone gets my dander up, it's so easy to lash out, and it takes much more to stop, listen to what they're saying, and respond lovingly.

There's a verse I keep in my cubicle that I've heard my mother say over and over in my life.
"I have wept through the night
for the shortness of sight
that to somebody's need made me blind,
but I never have yet
felt a twinge of regret
for being a little too kind."

I find myself tempering my words a little before they escape me. I find myself re-reading my emails time and time again before I hit send to make sure that the tone of my words is one of love and kindness. I find it more and more important, as the days go by, to convey to others the way I truly feel, and more and more, how I feel is compassionate. I look at people and see beauty. I try to place myself in others' shoes, and I try to hear what they would if someone said my words to me. I can't say that I'm successful in this, yet, but I will be.

I'd like to think that my ears are open. I'd like to think that in all the noise, the everyday circumstances, the hardships of life, I can hear the whisper of God amongst the rabble. This is a skill that I am trying to develop, daily.

As my friends and family, I'd like to ask this of you: Please keep me accountable. Please let me know when I'm not listening. Please help me as I try to become more teachable.

Much love,

14 August 2006

Where does the time go?

Do you remember back when you were a little girl and time just seemed to creep? I do. I remember when mom used to say we were going to leave in five minutes, and it felt like HOURS before we left. Now I think, "OK, I'll leave in 5 minutes," and twenty minutes later, I glance at my watch thinking I've still got 3 minutes to spare. Why is it that time seems to go so much more quickly now? You always hear that. At least, I always did. I always heard adults say things like "Time flies" or something of the sort, and I never believed it. I have this theory that one of the reasons why the elderly move so slowly is because to them, they feel as though time is moving more quickly, so they're under the impression that they're really trucking. Random meandering of thought.

The reason I ask is this: About 5 minutes ago, I moved to Arlington, VA from Olathe, KS. Of course, it's actually been a whole year, but it feels like it's been 5 minutes. My sister's been married for a year. My car was totaled a year ago. I lost my karate academy a year ago... It just doesn't seem like it's been that long, but it has. On the other hand, if this last year has gone so quickly, then the next one will probably go even faster. A year from now, I'll be moving back to the Midwest. A year from now, I'll be getting back into the dojo. A year from now, my new car will be paid off... Ah, the things that can happen in a year.

I guess the thing is that it's so easy to not live in this moment. It's so easy to define yourself the way you always have. It's so easy to look forward to something so much that you miss all the moments until you get to that point, and then that thing goes screaming by... I like the way Professor Harold Hill puts it in the Music Man. He says, "Pile up too many tomorrows and you'll find that you've collected nothing but a bunch of empty yesterdays." Of course, then there are also the people who do the opposite, the people who live in the past. There's a poem on the wall in my dear friend Terry's house that talks about this very thing.

I was regretting the past and fearing the future.
Suddenly my Lord was Speaking:
“My name is I am”
He paused.
I waited.

He continued.
“When you live in the past with its mistakes and regrets, it is hard.
I am not there. My name is not I was.
When you live in the future, with its problems and fears, it is hard.
I am not there. My name is not I will be.
When you live in this moment it is not hard. I am here.

My name is I am.”

I think that maybe the reason time goes so slowly when we're children is that we haven't developed a past in which to live, and we haven't yet been taught to be anxious over the future. If we could un-learn these two time-thieves, I think we could slow down and live more fully in the present. I like the two following quotations... now I just have to learn to live them.

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return. ~Mary Jean Iron

It is only possible to live happily-ever-after on a day-to-day basis. ~Margaret Bonnano

Much love.

08 August 2006

A Serious Topic-- Breast Cancer

I used to say, "The only 2 things that I'm scared of are shots and spiders." Well, that's changed. I'm no longer scared of shots, due to the fact that I'm a regular blood donor, now. (I was going to put some joke about tequila here, but decided against it... I don't like tequila, anyway. And if my mother is reading this, I've never touched the stuff.) I still have no love for spiders, and I'd prefer to live in an entirely spider-free universe, but I'm not really afraid of them (unless they're the really, really big ones from Harry Potter). My two little fears have been replaced and surpassed by the terror that strikes deep into my heart when I think of breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a scourge. While it mainly exists in women, men do get it as well. No one is completely risk-free when it comes to this illness, though some are at a much higher risk. The thing about it is this: breast cancer affects everyone in some way. It does not limit itself to touching only those it infects. The effects of breast cancer reach into the lives of those without it. Breast cancer is an unseen monster that reaches into every life with millions of mile-long tentacles . One in every seven-- you read that right, SEVEN-- women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in her life. Think of the women you love. Not all the women you know, just the ones who really mean something to you. Divide the number of women you love by seven, and that's how many times you should be touched by breast cancer, in your life.

See, breast cancer is a demon that must be fought by the person carrying it, but for those who don't have it, it's Harvey-- an unseen force, but unlike the rabbit, this one is waging war against someone you love, leaving you helpless in its wake. Nothing you can do will make a difference. The war is waged on the inside of someone you love, and there's no way to help fight. It's a personal battle. It's a battle of wills, waged with molecules.

Sometimes I wonder if it's harder on the family than it is on the fighter, simply because of the fact that there are things that you can DO if you are diagnosed. There are drugs you can take, foods you can eat, things you can learn, and you have the ability to fight the demon mentally, each day. But your family? Your family gets to sit and wait. They get to watch your hair fall out as the chemo takes its toll on your body. They get to "be there for you" and bring you things, but there's nothing they can do to help you win the daily war, no matter how much they may want to. The battles fought by the loved ones are those for sanity, mental fortitude, and strength. Your family holds you up. They can't let the strain of watching your condition, moment-by-moment, affect them. They must stay "up", happy, helpful, concerned, but not worried. They get to hurt for you, but they don't get to help you fight. That is a road they must watch you walk alone.

Breast cancer terrifies me. What terrifies me most is not getting it, though that would be bad enough, but watching those I love be diagnosed and fight for their lives. I think of those I know who are left without a mother, wife, sister, friend, and my heart just breaks. I think of the children who grow up without a mommy. I think of the man who grows old, alone. I think of the parents who ache for a daughter that's not there, the brother who wishes that he could have had just one more moment to tease his sister... And then, I think of MY parents, MY brother and sisters, MY Aunt Polly, MY nieces and nephew, MY friends, and I hope and pray that I never leave them that way.

I will be walking the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in DC, next May. My prayer is that God will use me in the lives of those affected by breast cancer, directly or indirectly, and that those I love will be shielded and helped throughout this war.

One final thought: Check your breasts. Do your breast self-exams (yes, men, too...). Get your mammograms. Learn about IBC (Inflammatory Breast Cancer-- no lumps, cannot be detected by mammogram). Eat properly. Don't smoke. Love your family and friends. Talk to me, if you'd like to donate money for my Avon Walk or click here.

Life's too short, people. Hold the ones you love.
Much love.

03 August 2006

Neat trick

Click on the "E" below, and drag it to the "u."

Even though you can't see Him, God is there for you.

Sister Sia

So, my sister, Sia, came to see me last week. For her graduation from high school, I flew her out. This was her first solo flight, so it was quite the adventure. The flight was delayed for 3 hours, and when it finally came in, I was at the wrong terminal*!! Well done. We had such an absolute blast together. I can’t even tell you how much fun it was to have her here! We crammed as much as we could into the time we had. She got in after 1 Saturday morning, and we didn’t get to bed until after 3, but we were up and getting ready before 8. Saturday, we went driving around the National Mall, and finally settled on a parking spot near the Capital building. We got tickets for a tour*, and then moved on. We went into the Botanical Garden*, and Sia showed me all kinds of plants that she used to know in the jungle of Africa. It was really neat. It’s different doing that kind of thing with someone from another world. Then we went to the Native American museum* and had lunch. The cafeteria there (Thanks for the tip, Aunt Jill!!) has all different varieties of American Indian food. Most of the meat is buffalo and fish varieties. We had all kinds of wonderful things, and decided that our mutual favorite was the flat bread. Mmmmmm. After lunch, we watched a movie in the museum that shows different American Indians in their lives today. Then, we bee-lined it back over to the Capital building for our tour. After the tour, we were going to go to Eastern Market, but by the time we found it (there should be signs, seriously.) they were closing down for the day. So we headed home, by way of the grocery store and Blockbuster, and had some sandwiches and watched a couple of movies. Sunday, with just a few hours of sleep under our belts, we got up in time to go to the early service (7:45a.m.) at my church. Sadly, our Commander-In-Chief and First Lady were not in attendance. We went home to change and then headed for Eastern Market. I think we made a serious dent. There’s only one section that we didn’t see, and we didn’t realize we’d missed it until we were headed to the zoo*. We did the zoo thing (yes, we saw the baby panda—he was up in a tree and looked really uncomfortable. He was napping strung out between 2 little branches, looking like a fat, fuzzy hammock), and then headed out for home. OK—here’s the fun thing: the zoo is free. Parking at the zoo is $4/hour. We paid 12 bucks for PARKING!!! Grrrr. I went to work Monday morning, and left Sia catching up on her beauty rest. After noon, I came home and we set out again, first to get the car inspected (2 parking tickets* in one day were plenty), then to Chinatown for lunch, then back over to the National Mall to stake out our place on the lawn for the movie. There is something called “Screen on the Green”* that happens on Monday nights during the summer. It was a blast! It wasn’t too insanely hot, and we got a great spot. We could see the car (maybe a 10-second walk from it) from our blanket, and the movie was Band Wagon with Fred Astaire. After the movie, we drove around the Mall again so that Sia could see the monuments lit up at night. Tuesday, I went to work for the morning, and then picked up Sia for more tourism. We had some lunch (KFC) and then went to Arlington National Cemetery (changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknowns, Kennedy gravesite, etc.) where parking was much more reasonable than it was at the zoo. Then we went over to the Mall and walked amongst the monuments and souvenir stands. We hit Lincoln, Vietnam, WWII, Washington, the reflecting pool, and a few softball league games. We headed back to Arlington in time to pick up Darla for dinner, and ate at Bangkok 54*. We visited with Darla for a bit longer, then headed back to my place to get ready for bed. Sia’s flight left early Wednesday morning. All-in-all, it was a lot of fun. We had some really interesting and meaningful conversations, and saw lots of new thing, (Asterisks indicate things I’d never done.) and we have a whole list of things to do when she comes back, again!

01 August 2006

The poem

The poem in the previous post just started coming to me, and I felt as though I needed to set it down on paper. It's the age-old question-- should I let anyone close to me after being hurt? or, as Minnie Driver put it in Grosse Pointe Blank, "Should a once-broken-hearted girl give a guy a second chance? First caller, you're on the air."

Any thoughts?

The Risk

This heart that beats but barely,
Like the broken wing of a bird…
It lifts no weight to be carried;
Too bruised by the tone of a word

Yet another may heal what is broken
And may touch the wound without pain.
But too close he must come without knowing;
He may break what is broken again.

When he puts forth his hand to touch me,
Do I trust in the look in his eyes?
For if guised his intent is malicious,
To let him too close is not wise.

But who can tell from a distance
Whether demon or doctor is he?
Should it quietly bear the inflicted,
Or with the healer, be “we”?

03 June 2006

An Old One... The Call

Here is an old one that I wrote and just came across. Fall 2004 is the date on it.

She glared at her phone from across the room. Lying on her desk, it seemed poised for action, but remained stubbornly silent. She thought about the call that wouldn't come, though she'd wait. She shrugged. At least he was consistent. The only thing she knew for sure was that when he said he'd call, he wouldn't, and when he asked her to call him, he wouldn't answer. She knew it had been that way too long. She knew it'd never change. She resolved to never see him again. She vowed to do something else with the time she spent waiting on his calls. She lied to herself. Again. Because, despite it all, she knew that where her heart was concerned, her will had no seigniory. No, she would wait. Eventually she would tire and sleep. Her phone would remain silent, and she'd hurt, just a little, in her sleep.

03 May 2006

Proud Sister

Russell Kinsaul used to be a news anchor in the KC area and recently moved to St. Louis. He had done several news stories about Feed My Lambs International (the non-profit organization my parents founded) while in KC. He is still a news anchor, but in a new city. This week is sweeps week for them, and he did a WONDERFUL follow-up story on my little sister, Maria, in last night's news. This was a feature spot, and they've been playing teasers for this spot for more than a week. I'm very impressed by the work they did on it and all the time they gave it. (In a 30-minute broadcast, most stories get 15 or 30 seconds. This video is 4 minutes and 21 seconds long!)

If you are unable to view the video, here's the story. (The video's much better! That, and they seem to find it impossible to spell my dad's name correctly. It's supposed to be "Lonny" not "Lonnie".)

I am, needless to say, oh-so-proud, and I wanted to share.
Much love.
God bless.

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

I participated in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer as a Crew member on the Security Team last weekend. (Pictures are forthcoming.) It was an incredible event. I learned so much, and was so impressed by the event and its participants. I learned things like the following:
  • One out of every 7 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • Only 5-10% of all breast cancers are hereditary.
  • Approximately 211,240 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, including 1690 men.
  • 40,410 women and 460 men will die of breast cancer this year.
  • People over the age of 50 account for 77% of those diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Every 3 minutes, someone is diagnosed with breast cancer (see below).
  • Every 14 minutes, someone dies of breast cancer.
  • White, non-Hispanic women are more likely to develop breast cancer, but African-American women are more likely to die of it.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Hispanic women, and it is the leading cause of cancer deaths in this group.
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer among African-American women.
  • Men account for about 1% of breast cancer cases.

See what I mean?? This is a beast of a disease. The event itself wasn't what I would call "fun", because of the sheer intensity of the emotion involved. One man, "mohawk guy" as he was called, walked the event wearing a t-shirt that stated he was walking with, for, and in honor of his wife. She had chemotherapy on Thursday, and still walked the first half of Saturday. If you aren't aware, the walk is a total of 39.3 miles. 26.2, a full marathon, on Saturday, and 13.1, a half marathon, on Sunday. It is an overnight event, and the Walkers, Crew Members, and Staff stay in a tent village. THAT MEANS that a woman whose immune system and strength had just been cut down by chemotherapy 2 days earlier, walked 13 miles on Saturday. When he got to the finish line, she was waiting for him with buckets of roses that they handed out to the medical staff who had helped her and the survivors who were participating. Incredible.

As I said above, every 3 minutes someone is diagnosed with breast cancer. For the walk, from the opening ceremony to the closing ceremony, every three minutes, one of the walkers is given a pink Miss-America-style ribbon to wear. At the end of the event, there is a number of walkers wearing ribbons equal to the number of people who would have been diagnosed with breast cancer in that amount of time. As a member of the security team (the only team that's on duty the entire walk-- I never got more than about 20 minutes of unbroken sleep), I was given the task of distributing some of these ribbons. Everyone else was asleep, and around 2:30 Saturday morning, I began my trek around the Wellness Village with a bag of 150 pink ribbons. I was the angel of death... or at least the angel of diagnosis. I stopped women going back to their tents from the bathrooms, sneaking over to get a warm drink (temperatures dipped below 40 that night), and I left ribbons on the ground, in shoes, and on bags outside tents for the occupants to discover when they awoke. I have to say it was a bit morbid. When you're the only one awake, patrolling with a flashlight, and handing out breast cancer diagnoses in 40-degree weather, you have time to think. I wondered about the men and women who would find these ribbons in the morning. I wondered if this person is one of the incredible people who are currently fighting this disease and taking this time to be a part of this event. I wondered if these shoes carried someone whose heart had been broken by a death in her family brought to her doorstep by this illness. I wondered if they would see it as a token to represent where they had spent the weekend, or if they'd see it as being hit again, randomly, by a killer. It was quite a sobering thought.

Even if I'd never known anyone touched by breast cancer, and even if it wasn't a concern of mine, I would still have been impressed by this event. I have to say, I have participated in a lot of events, volunteered in a lot of organizations, learned about a lot of charitable organizations and events, but I was amazed by the sheer logistics of this event. There were about 3000 participants. There were more than a hundred rental vehicles. There was an entire village constructed of tents. There was a route that went through multiple municipalities including DC and several other towns/cities in Maryland. There were Walkers, Crew Members, Staff Members, and Volunteers. Within the Crew there were 29 different teams. Along the route, there were quick stops (toilets, water, and sport drinks only), rest stops (just like the quick stops only with snacks and medical care as well), and lunch stops (actual meal instead of just snacks). This is an EXTREMELY well-organized event, and I was literally amazed time after time throughout the weekend. It was really incredible.

Before the closing ceremony, I registered as a walker for next year's event. Additionally, I made the decision that I will Crew EVERY Avon Walk in one year sometime in the next 5 years. There are 8--DC, Boston, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Charlotte. Next year, I will walk 39.3 miles over two days for those women I know who have had or do have breast cancer. I will walk for their families, husbands, friends. But most of all, I will walk it for the women and men in my life who I hope will never be visited by this particular beast. I will walk it for me, as well, but most of all I will walk it for you.

Much love.


For information about the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, click here.

In Support of Political Incorrectness

One day a few weeks ago, I had the unique opportunity to witness John Walsh's address to DEA. If you don't know, John Walsh is the host of America's Most Wanted. He got started in Victim Advocacy after his six-year-old son was kidnapped and murdered twenty-five years ago. April 23-29 was National Crime Victims' Rights Week, and his address was a prelude to that.

I have to say that his speech was one of the most refreshingly honest and politically incorrect that I've ever heard. It was beautiful. Not many people have the cojones to stand in front of an auditorium packed (no standing room) full of federal law enforcement people and say the things he said.

The majority of his speech was concocted of stories/facts that have been featured on the show. He told the story of the show where they were prepared to feature a criminal who had assassinated a DEA Agent. This particular scumbag was hunted down and killed by the mafia the day before the show was to air, and they were left with an empty 10-minute slot. Haha. (Yes, he used the word "scumbag.")

He talked about getting his elbow broken by a meth addict and how glad he was that his camera crew wasn't there documenting the beating he gave the guy. He denigrated the amount of sleep that defense lawyers are getting despite their profession. He joked about the visits he makes to Senators and Congressmen and how painful they are. He made it abundantly clear that he barely tolerates liberals, lawyers, and politicians, thinks that criminals should be executed, and thinks that (at least to some extent) due process is a waste of time and money. This guy was REALLY great.

Mr. Walsh is advocating a law which would create a national sex offenders' registry. It has passed the House, but is hung up in the Senate. There is a letter on his site (see link above) where you can get a letter to send to your Senators about it. I'd like to know that a convicted sex offender can't be in my neighborhood without being registered and monitored. How about you?

Much Love.

15 April 2006

Sadder but Wiser

Why is it that the things that make us wiser are often the things that hurt? There's a song in the Music Man called "The Sadder but Wiser Girl For Me". I guess that means I'm eligible. Haha. For anyone who's keeping track, I am officially single again. Apparently I have been for awhile, but because of the communication in the relationship had ABSOLUTELY no idea that was the case until yesterday. It was made crystal clear to me in an email that contradicted many of the things my esteemed gentleman friend had been telling me in real life. Such is life, I suppose.

GUYS: If you don't want to be in a relationship with a girl, it might be wise for you to tell her so WHEN YOU MAKE THAT DECISION and not belabor it via 3 weeks worth of the "relationship conversation" while still treating her like your girlfriend. ALSO, do not do this in an email or text message. Have the courtesy to actually talk to the young lady, face-to-face, if possible. Digital/electronic media are the coward's ways out, and she deserves better than that, whether or not you think so, because she is somebody's daughter, sister, friend, and you don't need a whole gaggle of people hating your stinking guts just because you didn't handle the situation properly.

Now, I have to say this... He is a wonderful man, and that's why I'm sad. He's revealed a lot to me about myself. My relationship with God is closer than it has been in years, since I was a little girl, and that's in no small part due to this guy. I have been happier than I thought possible while with him, and I've discovered what it is that I'm looking for in a Man with whom I'd like to share my life. I've rediscovered the things that used to be my dreams, and found that they still are. I've given up the self-deception I'd carried for years, and I've dealt with the things that have kept me from drawing close to God. I am altogether a different person than I was when we met, and while some of these changes have been coming for awhile, he sped their arrival. That's a lot to accomplish in just under 2 months.

Oh, and I've lost 10 pounds since we met (most of which in the last week or so), so that's good too.

Whatever life brings me, I know it will all work out in the end, because God promised me that. I just have to believe that God has a better plan for my life than I thought was possible with this man. Whatever He gives will be to glorify Him, and this apparently wasn't that.

May God bless each of you, today and always.
Much Love.

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and he delighteth in his way." Ps. 37:23

05 April 2006

Red Letter Day


My sister-in-law had my second niece today. Ava Kay Houk was born at 7:58a weighing in at 7 lbs. 3 oz. and measuring at 20". Mother and child (and the rest of the family, too...) are doing well. :D

Awww... Posted by Picasa

23 March 2006

Dwarves of Ignorance

So my friend Brownie and I went to the Freer on Saturday as part of our monthly "Day of FUN!!!" (Three exclamation points, mandatory.) We visited both the Freer and the Sackler museum gift shops (Rabbit Trail Story-- see below), to which I'm addicted-- any museum gift shop, not just those two... I'm not picky; tried (and failed-- well, not really "failed"... more like "gave up") to get into a kids/parents only class about Hokusai; and walked around most of the Asian exhibits. (Brownie has been to China, and I study karate--Okinawan Kenpo Kobujitsu Karate-- and have a brother who runs a Japanese owned/operated travel agency, so we're firmly steeped--OK, "firmly" might not be entirely accurate-- in Asian culture.) After a while, we started (and by "we" I mean "I") "interpreting" the art. (Yes, I'll admit it. I'm a terrible influence.) We found some things we really liked after that. We saw some great big, fat guys on these screens (that I really wanted to take home and hang up), some really irritated men who thought that, "next time we have guys' night out, we're not bringing our wives" while their wives were having a fine old time gossiping. We saw gods whose belly buttons were dragons (I'd really like to get a dragon-head navel ring) and who were standing on some very bored-/annoyed-looking demons. We saw pots with vestigial nubs where handles should have been (how can you grasp a gallon-sized jug by a little 1/2" nub?). But the best part of all was in the last place we looked (trying not to have a Jeff Foxworthy Moment here... see below). There was, and I wrote this down, so I know it's correct, "Shiva Nataraja (lord of the dance) posed upon the Dwarf of Ignorance..."

I'm sure some obscure prophecy by Swindon's own St. Zvlkx would have read, "where the lord of the dance poses on the dwarf of ignorance, great merriment will be found in satin and brownie," to which his scribe replied, "That doesn't even make sense. I'm not writing that down. Are you drunk again??? I'm taking you to Alcoholics Anonymous, just as soon as someone invents it." (That's for all the Fforde fans out there...)

Here's a fun game for all to play-- next time you get bored at work, try to identify as many "Dwarves of Ignorance" as you can. A word of caution, however, DO NOT IDENTIFY THEM AS SUCH TO THEIR FACES. If it works out, maybe you can stand on one when you become the lord of the dance. Hahaha!

While we were in the Freer gift shop, I picked up this martial arts book and was flipping through it. The book was "Dojo Wisdom: 100 Simple Ways to Become a Stronger, Calmer, More Courageous Person". I happened to come to rest on the page that gives you info about the author, and I saw the words "Lawrence, KS", so I looked at the name and, shock of all shocks, it was Jennifer Lawler. She co-wrote a book with a former kickboxing instructor of mine, Debz Buller, called "Kickboxing For Women", which was published right around the time when I was studying under Debz. I actually demonstrated kickboxing techniques at the Barnes & Noble at Town Center Plaza in Leawood, KS to sell the book! Isn't it funny how you can go 1300 miles and have the strangest little familiarities pop up??

***Jeff Foxworthy Moment***
"Why is it when you ask someone if they found something they lost, they always say, 'Yeah, it was in the LAST place I looked!' I sure HOPE so! 'Bill did you find your wallet?' 'Yeah, but I'm still lookin' for it-- just in case we're in an alternate reality or something...'"

FYI-- Brownie tells me she wrote about the dwarves of ignorance on her blog, so I'm off to read that, now.

Happy Dwarf-Hunting!
Much Love.

One more thing...

And for those of you who were wondering, that title was shamelessly stolen from Columbo...

I feel I owe an apology to my adoring public (you know who you are...) for failing to publish my thoughts of the last few weeks. Please accept my apology. I will endeavor to remedy this lack of access to me, to the best of my ability.
Much Love,

The Lost Mitten/Glove

At this point I feel obliged to mention a man I met nearly a month ago. The reason I feel obliged to mention him is that he has done a remarkable thing. Dirv has changed my life. "How has Dirv changed your life?" you might ask... Well, he asked me questions and expected honesty of me. He asked me HARD questions, and expected honesty of me that I haven't even given myself. The thing about that is, that when I was honest with him, I began seriously taking a look at things that I was too scared or lazy to deal with, or things that I was hoping would just go away or resolve themselves if I ignored them.

In the process of being honest with Dirv, I was reminded to be honest with myself, and in being honest with myself, I have learned a lot about accepting the Grace of God in dealing with myself. As a direct result of Dirv's gentle questions, the lines of communication between God and I that had gotten... a little rusty-- shall we say?-- have been re-opened, and I am more able to hear God's voice. Now, I have to say that things aren't done yet, but they're in the process. This process brings me to the subject of this particular blog entry-- the lost mitten/glove.

My junior year of college, my brother and sister-in-law gave me plane tickets for my birthday so that I could spend Thanksgiving with my mother's youngest sister and her husband in Nevada City, CA. While I was there, my Aunt Eva and I went shopping in Nevada City, in some of the little tourist shops. In one of these shops, I found something for which I had been searching for a couple of years-- mitten/gloves. They're gloves with no tips on the fingers, and mitten-tops that can either cover the ends of the fingers (so it looks like you're wearing regular mittens) or not (so you have use of individual fingers). I LOVE these things, especially now that I'm in DC and commute via public transit.

I'm a reader, as you probably already know if you're reading this, and one of my goals for this year is to read at least 52 books. My primary reading time is on my commute. These mitten/gloves are perfect because they keep my hands warm, but they leave my fingertips free, when necessary, for turning pages. Have you ever tried to turn pages in a book with cold fingers? with gloves on? with mittens on? These remarkable inventions make all of those pesky little problems disappear! It's magic!

This morning I left my apartment with 2 mitten/gloves. When I arrived at work, I had one. I was incredibly annoyed. I thought about my lost mitten/glove off and on throughout the day, thought of all the things I'd do to try to find it, fretted over it, groused about it to anyone who would listen, and even actively tried to find it by retracing my steps. I have not found my missing mitten/glove. (I intend to ask my bus driver in the morning, stop in the TSA building to see if anyone turned it in there, and if worse comes to worst, buy a new pair.)

Tonight while I was out on the sidewalk searching the area where I'd waited for my bus, I very distinctly heard Jesus whisper in my ear, "How important is your missing mitten/glove to you?" To which I responded, "Well, pretty important, since I'm out here looking for it, at night, on the street (dressed in black from the neck down, waiting to get hit by a car)..." and then amended to include, "but not as important as You are, or at least should be..." He immediately reminded me that "You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13-- yes, Lucas, just 2 verses past the one we were talking about on Tuesday)

So, my question is this: How important is what you're seeking? Is it important enough that you're seeking it with all your heart? Do you have the same guarantee that God is willing to provide-- the guarantee that you will find it?

Just thought I should ask. So, I owe a "thank you" to Dirv for helping to point me to the place where I can hear the voice of Jesus in my ear; I owe an apology to the God of the Universe for neglecting to ask Him to help in my mitten/glove search (something that's been remedied) and trusting Him to take care of it; and I owe an eternal debt of gratitude to the One who was willing to seek me out and patiently await my response even when I was trying to not be found.

The moral of today's story: Next time you lose something, do two things. Let God handle the search and rescue (because He already knows exactly where it is and the best way for you to find it), and make sure that your search for God is what you're putting your heart into, not any other search.

Have a good night, all!
Much love,

P.S. In case you're wondering, even if I don't get my mitten/glove back, I'm certain that God will put it to better use than I could... maybe it's on the right hand of a homeless person whose left was amputated, or softening the nest of a squirrel... who knows? Either way, it's not my problem anymore. :)

19 February 2006

Sunday Musings

And now, from the woman voted "Most Likely To Be Squished Like A Bug By A Runaway Beer Truck On Her Way Home From Church" for twenty-six weeks running...

It is 9:30 on Sunday morning. I just got home from church. Let me explain to you how Sundays work for me.

Since I don't have a POV (privately owned vehicle), I use public transit. Public transit on Sundays is completely different than public transit the rest of the week, in that buses only run about once an hour, and the trains don't run as often as the rest of the week either. On a regular Sunday, I have to get up about 8:00 in order to be ready to walk out my door at 9:00 in order to actually reach the church in time for the 11:00 service. It takes me about an hour and fifteen minutes to get to church and about an hour and a half to get home. (Church is about 3 miles from my house, in case you were wondering.) So yesterday, I got to thinking that maybe I could just take the zipcar to church. That meant going to the early service, which is only 35 minutes long, so that I don't rack up a huge bill. I got up and left my apartment by 7:15 this morning. I walked half a mile to my zipcar in 10 degree weather.

Now, I have to take this opportunity to ask... Why is it that every man that I find attractive at my church winds up being Secret Service and, therefore, unapproachable???

Beyond that... When the service was over, I hopped in my zipcar, returned it to its spot, grabbed some breakfast at Best Buns and walked half a mile home (only to be passed by a bus I could have taken from Shirlington when I got to the stop closest to my apartment). I came in and looked at weather.com. It is currently 17 degrees, but feels like 4. So, it's been a successful morning. Haha.

I was gone 2 hours, spent about $20 (including car and breakfast), saw the President and First Lady and some really nice looking gentlemen with things in their ears, got some exercise, visited with God, and didn't have to wait on a single bus or train all morning. All in all, I think it's really my best option for church, so I think I'll try it again next week. :D

Much love,

BTW, guess who discovered the ability to hyperlink in her blog and loves it with all her heart? And yes, I have been here 6 months now, for those of you who noted the 26 week thing.

17 February 2006

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer DC

For those of you who do not know, I am participating in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer DC event as a crew member. That means that I will be working throughout the weekend during the walk. If you are interested in donating money for breast cancer, you can do so through me and help me with my goal at the same time! Take a look at avonwalk.org or my own personal webpage which will be better developed as time goes by.

The DC Walk is the last weekend in April, and the walkers will be going 39.3 miles-- a full marathon, 26.2, on Saturday and a half marathon, 13.1, on Sunday. The event continues throughout the weekend including an overnight stay in a village composed of hundreds upon hundreds of tents.

I am participating because breast cancer is a scourge that needs to be eradicated. A woman in the US is diagnosed with breast cancer every 3 minutes. (And for you smart alecs out there, no it's not the same woman every time.) People close to me have been affected by it in horrendous ways. My mother-in-law (brother's wife's mom) and her mother, the mothers of two of my high school classmates, and several other friends have been diagnosed with this monster, and to be quite frank, it scares me to death. So, I'm doing something about it, and you can too.

Much love,

Save Boobs everywhere-- Support Avon Walk for Breast Cancer!

16 February 2006

My first time

Welcome... to the mild, yet marvelous world of ME coming to you online for the FIRST TIME EVER!

Aren't you just so excited you could spit?? I think the guy looking over your shoulder at that Borders hotspot just wet himself for the sheer thrill of it.

So I'm not very good at checking my personal email accounts, and I'm not very regular about remembering to read Brownie's blog. But since there are so many people eager to enliven their daily grind by living vicariously through este chica, I thought I'd give in and make it just that much easier.

Feel free to check in sporadically, and I shall do the same. I hope you're having a lovely week.

With great affection,